Dennis Domrzalski , Reporter- Albuquerque Business First
An audience of 1,200 doctors from around the world tuned in Thursday to watch a surgical procedure taking place in New Mexico.
Lovelace Women’s Hospital and Dr. Amy Garcia  broadcast a live laparoscopic minimally-invasive hysterectomy to the doctors who were gathered in Washington D.C. for the Global Congress on Minimally Invasive Gynecology sponsored by the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists.
The procedure began at 10 a.m. in Albuquerque and was the first time a televised surgery had been done at Lovelace Women’s Hospital, saidLovelace Health System spokeswoman Laurie Volkin .
Garcia said the surgery, in which the 1,200 viewers had a chance to question her while she was operating, was an opportunity to educate doctors on minimally-invasive surgical techniques.
“They will be able to interact and ask questions and learn about how to improve their own surgical skills,” said Garcia, who has done more than 700 laparoscopic surgeries in the past 10 years. “If we can improve one surgeon in the audience, that surgeon will go back and serve patients, and this will have a domino effect in that we are changing women’s lives all over the world with an event like this.”
While laparoscopic surgery has been around for a long time, there has been a “global expansion” of the procedures in recent years, Garcia said.
“The advantage of minimally-invasive procedures is about patient quality of life, minimizing surgical risks, improving outcomes for women and decreasing future complications. The patient can leave the hospital today and go home and have her full life back versus two weeks in the hospital,” Garcia added.
With regular surgical hysterectomy procedures, Garcia would have to make an eight-to-10-inch incision in a patient. With the minimally-invasive technique, she makes two incisions, one the size of a nickel and the other the diameter of a pencil.
“I can take a basketball-sized uterus out of an opening the size of a belly button,” Garcia said.
The procedure involves cutting the uterus into strips with a device called a morcellator and pulling them out through the small incisions, Garcia said.
The minimally-invasive procedure works well for women with large uteruses, but many don’t know the option is available, Garcia said.
“If a woman today needs an abdominal hysterectomy, she needs to get a second opinion,” Garcia said, explaining that many women stay with the doctors who delivered their babies. “If that doctor says your uterus is too big and we need to make a large incision to take it out, she needs to get a second opinion.
“Women need to know that if they need an abdominal hysterectomy that there are very few reasons to make a large incision.”