To Virginia Robison, age was just a number. The 83-year-old Mount Morris resident maintains an independent lifestyle and never shied away from hard work.
“I was lifting bags of cement myself before I had to stop following surgery,” she says. “I have always been a hard worker.”
However, in early 2017, she had to rethink her activity level. She was experiencing discomfort and no longer had confidence in her bladder control. She was diagnosed with pelvic floor dysfunction, a common condition where the muscles, ligaments, connective tissue and nerves that support the bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum become weak or damaged. The dysfunction may cause any of the following: urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse, where the uterus, bladder and bowel may drop onto the vagina and cause a bulge through the vaginal canal.
According to a study funded through the National Institutes of Health, almost one-quarter of women face pelvic floor disorders, with the likelihood of occurrence increasing with a woman’s age. Although the condition may be common, it does not have to be an accepted part of aging. Exercise and therapy may strengthen and correct some cases of pelvic floor disorder. When therapy does not provide the desired results, surgical options are available.
Currently the gold standard of pelvic floor corrective surgery is sacrocolpopexy. In this operation, surgical mesh is used to hold the affected pelvic organ(s) in their natural position. Sacrocolpopexy is often done using open surgery or traditional laparoscopic surgery. However, a select number of surgeons in the area are able to utilize the very latest in surgical technology to perform the procedure, resulting in less pain and quicker healing than with traditional techniques.
Michael Engel, D.O., a gynecologist located at the McLaren Flint Women’s Health office in Flushing, has taken a special interest in utilizing robotic assistance to perform hysterectomies and pelvic floor corrective surgery.
“I am very passionate about making robotic surgery available to patients,” he says. “It is a terrific tool to elevate a surgeon’s skills. The visual clarity and dexterity available through this incredible technology provides real benefits to my patients, such as shorter hospital stays, less pain, quicker recovery time and minimal scarring.”
“The visual clarity and dexterity available through this incredible technology provides real benefits to my patients, such as shorter hospital stays, less pain, quicker recovery time and minimal scarring.” — Michael Engel, D.O.
For Robison, the effects were realized soon after surgery. The discomfort was resolved immediately, and her sense of confidence was restored soon after. The surgery revealed an additional issue affecting her bladder control that required a corrective procedure by a urologist.
“My advice to anyone experiencing these issues is to get them taken care of, especially if you have a surgeon like Dr. Engel,” she says. “I was miserable before and feel so much better now.”
Engel is accepting new patients and can be reached at the McLaren Flint Women’s Health office at 2487 N. Elms Road, Flushing (810-487-3500).