Minimally invasive fix for fibroids gives woman her life back

After 10 years, a Louisville patient finds relief from fibroids pain and other symptoms, thanks to a minimally invasive procedure.

Nearly 10 years ago, Stephanie Mattingly was having pelvic pain and found herself making more frequent trips to the restroom. Living in Canada at the time, she sought out help from multiple medical providers and found out she had a small uterine fibroid. No one, however, suspected that was the cause of her issues.

Fast forward years later ,and she continued to experience worsening issues with pain.

“I was feeling so bad, and it felt like my stomach was full of rocks,” Stephanie said.

She had never been told that fibroids could change over time and was unaware that several of her family members had also experienced fibroids in their lives.

In spring 2023 and now living in Louisville, she was feeling awful and sought help from her primary care physician, who ordered an ultrasound. To Stephanie’s surprise, the fibroids had grown to be so large that her uterus was the size of someone five months pregnant.

The first step was a visit to Steve W. Kang, M.D., OB/GYN with Norton Women’s Care.

“Fibroids can cause different kinds of symptoms, but the most common is heavy or abnormal bleeding,” Dr. Kang said. “When they are large, they can cause abdominal pressure.

“They also can cause issues from pressing on the bladder or colon, resulting in issues with urination or constipation.”

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Hitting the high notes: Finding care to fit Stephanie’s goals

“He [Dr. Kang] listened carefully to my issues, and our first treatment option was medication to shrink the fibroids,” Stephanie said. “Unfortunately, that didn’t work. I am a classically trained soprano, so singing is very important to me. I was worried that if I had to have a major, invasive surgery I would be out of performances for more than six weeks — and that wasn’t something I could afford to do.”

Stephanie was immediately referred to Steven J. Radtke, M.D., minimally invasive gynecologic surgeon at Norton Urogynecology Center. Dr. Radke is part of the advanced pelvic health team at Norton Women’s Care. He and Jonathan H. Reinstine, M.D., another minimally invasive gynecologic surgery specialist also with Norton Women’s Care, work with more complex patient issues, such as Stephanie’s large fibroids.

“There are several excellent treatment options available for patients seeking relief from fibroids, which can be tailored specifically to a patient’s needs and wishes,” Dr. Radtke said. “Surgery is sometimes recommended when the fibroids become excessively large or symptomatic. In Stephanie’s case, it was extremely important to minimize disruption to the abdominal wall muscles since she is a singer.

“Fortunately, using advanced minimally invasive surgery techniques we are now able to perform these operations without the need for a large incision, regardless of the size of the uterus or fibroids.”

With a laparoscopic procedure, a thin camera and instruments are inserted into the abdomen through small incisions (about the width of a pencil) and used to complete the surgery. This has been shown to decrease the risk of complications such as infections, scar tissue, deep vein thrombosis (blood clots), etc., and leads to a significantly faster recovery.

“Dr. Radtke was so kind,” Stephanie said. “The first thing he said was it looks like you’ve been through a lot. I almost cried then and there, because he was so supportive. It gave me such confidence.

“I wasn’t even nervous going into surgery. I had a little nausea but the rest was a breeze and I was back to normal activities in two weeks and singing in three.”

Both Stephanie and Dr. Radtke stress that it’s important to talk to your medical provider if you feel like something isn’t right. Your instincts often will be correct.

“Because fibroids can grow slowly over long periods of time, the symptoms may not be immediately apparent to patients,” Dr. Radtke said. “This sometimes can lead to a delay in receiving care.

“Stephanie continued to seek for answers, and while her particular journey took a while, we are very pleased that she is now back out there sharing her voice with the Louisville community.”

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