Here's one for the record books -- the Guinness World Record book, to be exact.
A suburban Chicago OBGYN has recently removed the largest uterus ever laparoscopically.
Dr. Richard Demir, of South Barrington, set the Guinness World Record when he and another surgeon removed a uterus weighing more than 7 pounds without opening the patient's abdomen last year in Tempe, Ariz.
Demir, who is chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Tempe St. Luke's Hospital and founder of the Society of Elite Laparoscopic Surgeons, said it was only possible due to "the evolution of surgical equipment."
"When I was a resident at Mount Sinai (in Chicago), the state-of-the-art equipment at that time wasn't capable, frankly, of doing these things," said Demir, who once was a surgeon at Sherman Hospital in Elgin. "No one had the idea that you could accomplish a major surgery laparoscopically."
Starting in the 1990s, the equipment to perform minimally invasive surgeries gradually improved, enabling surgeons to eventually perform a laparoscopic hysterectomy "without cutting the tummy open," Demir said.
Equipment nowadays allows surgeons to perform a hysterectomy through four small incisions anywhere from 5 millimeters to 11 millimeters long. Once the uterus is free from vital organs and blood vessels, the real magic happens, Demir said.
The surgeon begins using the morcellator, a tool which allows a surgeon, in the case of a hysterectomy, to "cut up the uterus in tiny pieces and gradually pull it out," he said.
Demir, who founded the Demir Foundation For Women and Children, said the benefits of a laparoscopic hysterectomy are many. And 95 percent of hysterectomies involving uteruses under a pound can be done laparoscopically, said Demir, who is responsible for two civic works of art located in Elgin -- Seven at the Gates of Dawn, at State Street (Illinois 31) and Kimball Street, and the U.S. Flag Sculpture on Walton Island in Fox River.
Out of the 574 hysterectomies he's completed over the past few years, 542 of them were done laparoscopically, he said.
The surgery lasts about 30 minutes and the patient is in the recovery room for a day or two at the most, according to Demir, who added that one can be back at work in less than two weeks. Compare that to a patient who underwent a hysterectomy the traditional way: the procedure lasts for hours, recovery time is about five days in the hospital and the patient can't go back to work for about six weeks, Demir said.
If your doctor tells you that a laparoscopic hysterectomy can't be done, Demir said "to shop around and fine someone who's capable of doing it."
"Women need to be a more informed consumer and just because you've been going to a guy (gynecologist) for 20 years doesn't mean he's the guy to go to" when having a hysterectomy, said Demir, who was the medical director of Demir Medical Group in Chicago's northwest suburbs from 1988 through 2005.
"You don't want your tummy cut open and you don't want to be immobilized," Demir continued. "It's far easier to cut the tummy open, but far more difficult for women to recover."
Demir also suggested staying away from robotic hysterectomies because they cost more money and the surgery involves five small incisions rather than four.