The hysterectomy, a common surgical procedure for correcting menstrual bleeding, may, in many cases, soon be outdated and unnecessary, according to a local medical company.

Greg McArthur, research and development coordinator for Reproductive Specialists at HGM Medical Laser Systems in Salt Lake City, said clinical trials have begun using an HGM Argon laser to perform procedures to correct excessive bleeding that is not resolved by a D&C.The process, called "endometrial ablation," yields the same results as a hysterectomy, without having to remove the uterus or perform major abdominal surgery, he said.

Unlike a traditional hysterectomy, endometrial ablation performed with the Argon laser leaves the uterus physically (though not functionally) intact, and can be done as outpatient surgery under general anesthesia with no incision.

"The patient can have surgery in the morning, go home in the afternoon and return to normal activities after recovering from the effects of anesthesia," McArthur said. The laser procedure also is less painful than a hysterectomy and may significantly reduce complications such as postoperative bleeding or infection.

Because the patient need not stay overnight in the hospital and can return to work a few days after the procedure, endometrial ablation performed with the Argon laser costs less.

The laser hysterectomy procedure is performed by inserting a small viewing device (hysteroscope) into the vagina, through the cervix, and into the uterine cavity. A fiberoptic placed through the operating channel of the hysteroscope is then used to apply laser energy to the lining of the uterus.

The physician manipulates the laser fiber within the uterus, carving out and destroying the endometrium with laser energy. The doctor can view the procedure directly through the hysteroscope, or on a video monitor.

The Argon laser used in the hysterectomy procedure is also used in ophthalmology, dermatology, plastic surgery, urology, gastroenterology, colon and rectal surgery, and neurosurgery. It is also used in other gynecological procedures, including outpatient surgical treatment of endometriosis, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility.

HGM is also currently performing clinical trials of a revolutionary procedure using the same Argon laser to open narrowed or blocked peripheral arteries.

For more information, contact McArthur at HGM Medical Laser Systems Inc., at 972-0500.