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Robotic Gynecology: News & Events

Younger women with cancer in uterus less likely to get proven treatment

Many women with endometrial cancer are not getting the combination therapies that are more likely to improve survival, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Researchers led by Dr. Ana Rodriguez, assistant professor of obstetrics and
gynecology at UTMB, looked at data from more than 82,000 women diagnosed with endometrial cancer between 2000 and 2011.

"We found stark differences in cancer-specific survival based on a woman's age and the stage of her cancer diagnosis," Rodriguez said. Survival greatly improved for patients who received a combination of a total hysterectomy, with removal of tubes and ovaries, and radiation, particularly for patients diagnosed with late-stage disease. Survival was much lower in patients who received only radiation.

Preventing cervical cancer – vaccinations, screenings work

(A guest column by Dr. Ana M. Rodriguez) January is Cervical Health Awareness Month — a time to focus public attention on the need for women across the country to get screened for cervical cancer, and for boys and girls to get vaccinated against the human papilloma virus when they are eligible.

All women are at risk for cervical cancer. It occurs most often in women older than 30, with approximately 12,000 women in the United States diagnosed annually. Of these women, about 4,000 will die, most of whom never received the HPV vaccination or did not receive regular screenings for the illness.

Texas has one of the highest rates of HPV-related cervical cancer in the nation. Hispanic women have the highest rate of cervical cancer of any ethnic group, with rates about 60 percent higher than those of non-Hispanic whites. Women living in the Rio Grande Valley have a 30 percent higher incidence and mortality rate from cervical cancer than those living in other parts of the state or country.

Fortunately, cervical cancer is one of the most easily preventable cancers. Pap and HPV testing, coupled with appropriate treatment for abnormal or precancerous cells, can prevent cervical cancer before it develops. More...

Galveston County Daily News, Jan. 5, 2016. Read full article 

UTMB study finds that Hispanic women less likely to survive endometrial uterine cancer

Dr. Ana RodriguezLead Author - Ana M. Rodriguez, MD, MPH

In the largest study to date evaluating outcomes of Hispanic women with endometrial uterine cancer, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have found that Hispanic women in the United States were significantly less likely to survive the cancer than non-Hispanic white women.

A total of 69,764 women diagnosed with endometrial cancer between 2000 and 2010 were included in this study of public-use data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program. The study is available online in the December issue of Gynecologic Oncology. [read more]

Radiation therapy for cervical cancer increases risk for colorectal cancer

Lead Author - Ana M. Rodriguez, MD, MPH

Texas researchers recommend new early colorectal cancer screening guidelines for young cervical cancer survivors

GALVESTON, Texas. Thursday, April 17, 2014 — Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston are the first to recommend that young women treated with radiation for cervical cancer should begin colorectal cancer screening earlier than traditionally recommended.

The UTMB researchers, finding a high incidence of secondary colorectal cancers among cervical cancer survivors treated with radiation, offer new recommendations that the younger women in this group begin colorectal cancer screening about eight years after their initial cervical cancer diagnosis instead of waiting until age 50. The study is now online in the journal Medical Oncology. [read more]

Robotic Surgery: Practical Examples in Gynecology, UTMB's Dr. Sami Kilic, editor. 

Robotic Surgery: Practical Examples in Gynecology, Dr. Kilic, editorDr. Sami Kilic is the lead editor of one of the first textbooks on robotic gynecological surgery, “Robotic Surgery: Practical Examples in Gynecology,” published Dec. 30, 2013.

Kilic, a pioneer in developing new robotic gynecological surgical techniques, is also devoted to teaching other physicians worldwide how to perform groundbreaking new robotic surgeries.

Since being recruited by UTMB to spearhead its robotic gynecological surgery training program, Kilic has tirelessly advanced the program. He has carried out research on robotic surgery training techniques, has traveled the globe to train other physicians, had invented many new robotic surgical techniques and has developed a robust residency training program at UTMB that is unique in the field.

Eight other members of the UTMB faculty besides Kilic are contributing authors to the textbook. It is listed on Amazon.com.

On Wednesday, Feb. 26, Kilic presented a copy of the book to Dr. David Callender, UTMB president.

“This is great work,” Dr. Callender said. “You make us proud.”
Dr. Callender and Dr. Kilic

AAGL COEMIGUTMB receives international recognition for minimally invasive gynecology

The University of Texas Medical Branch is one of only four hospitals in Texas to receive the Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology designation, signifying the highest level of laparoscopic gynecological expertise. The AAGL — the world’s premier professional society dedicated to minimally invasive surgery in gynecology — has designated only 44 Centers of Excellence in the United States.

“Earning the Center of Excellence designation signifies our ability to consistently deliver the safest, highest-quality care to our patients,” said Donna Sollenberger, executive vice president and chief executive officer for the UTMB Health System. “We are so proud of our gifted surgeons and their deep commitment to advancing new techniques that offer so many benefits to the women who put their health in our hands.”
UTMB has a designated team of gynecological surgeons who specialize exclusively in minimally invasive robotic surgery: Drs. Sami Kilic, Ana M. Rodriguez and Mostafa Borahay. Together, they have spent the past five years developing innovative surgical techniques, conducting research on the effectiveness of their work, publishing and presenting their methodologies, training other surgeons from around the country, and traveling internationally to train colleagues in England, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Turkey and Egypt.
[read more]

Texas physician breaks ground in robotic cervical surgery

GALVESTON, Texas — Performing surgery on a pregnant patient is a delicate matter. Risks to both mother and baby must be carefully weighed in every decision a surgeon makes. Recently, at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, a surgeon performed a groundbreaking robotic laparoscopic procedure on a 35-year-old pregnant patient whose cervix was too short to sustain a pregnancy.

Dr. Sami Kilic, chief of minimally invasive gynecology and research at UTMB, is the first surgeon in the world reported to have used robotically assisted, ultrasound-guided laparoscopic surgery to successfully tighten a pregnant patient’s incompetent cervix. The procedure is explained in a new paper now online in the Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology. When performed traditionally, abdominal cerclage surgery requires a large incision and a long period of recovery. Kilic’s new procedure left the patient with only three tiny abdominal scars. [read more]


Robotic Cerclage and Dr. Sami Kilic

Watch a short video of Dr. Kilic and his patient. 

Robotic Cerclage: Leonora and her daughter

Read the patient’s story.

Gamers beat medical professionals when performing robotic surgery

International Business Times, November 16, 2012

Teenage gamers are better at performing robotic surgery than medical professionals because of their superior hand-eye coordination skills. According to research by UTMB, high school and college students outmatched medical residents when performing technologically advanced robotic surgeries. Dr. Sami Kilic, lead author and professor at UTMB, said, “The inspiration for this study first developed when I saw my son, an avid video game player, take the reins of a robotic surgery simulator at a medical convention. With no formal training, he was immediately at ease with the technology and the type of movements required to operate the robot.” He added, “As we see students with enhanced visual-spatial experience and hand-eye coordination that are a result of the technologically-savvy world they are immersed in, we should rethink how best to teach this generation.” The news is receiving widespread coverage and appears in ECN Magazine, Science Daily and Science Newsline.

Physician earns top honors for research presentation

Dr. Ana RodriguezDr. Ana M. Rodriguez of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology recently took top honors for a research poster presented at the joint annual meeting of the American Congress of Obstetrics & Gynecology and the Texas Association of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Dr. Rodriguez, whose areas of interest include family planning /contraception, minimally invasive gynecology and robotic surgery, is one of the nation's most experienced gynecologists in the area of hysteroscopic sterilizations. Her first-place poster, Analysis of Tubal Patency after Essure ™ Placement, summarized an analysis of 203 patients who had undergone the Essure ™ procedure. In the analysis, which compared results with earlier studies, researchers led by Dr. Rodriguez found a slightly higher failure rate in certain patients, which they theorize could be associated with higher BMI (obesity) or prior intrauterine device use. More research will be necessary. The work presented was conducted with Drs. Daniel Breitkopf and Russell R. Snyder.

The Affordable Care Act promotes women’s health

By Ana M. Rodriguez

Americans receive only about half of the preventive services and screening tests recommended to promote health and wellness, which is crucial in the prevention of developing diseases. The good news is that the Affordable Care Act is increasing women’s access to services that promote their health. This new access to preventive services and screening tests is expected to fill the gaps in current women’s access to comprehensive medical care.

Different barriers still exist against the promotion of public health and the establishment of preventive practices that are a fundamental part of medical care in any population. One of these barriers is certainly the financial aspects involved with people undergoing recommended preventive services. By removing the financial barriers to these services through this Act, our women are being offered the opportunity to access needed preventive care.

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Public Law 111-148 into law, creating new reforms that increase access to affordable health coverage for everyone and protect consumers from abusive insurance company practices. The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, Public Law 111-152, was enacted on March 30, 2010 (collectively known as the “Affordable Care Act”). This law establishes the creation of an office to be known as “The Office of Women’s Health,” which aims to coordinate activities related to disease prevention, health promotion, service delivery and research for issues of particular concern to women throughout their lifespan.

Beginning Aug. 1, 2012, under the Affordable Care Act and the new Office of Women’s Health, it will be required that most private health plans cover preventive services for women without having to pay a co-payment or a deductible. Some of these preventive services include:

  • Well-woman visits
  • Screening for gestational diabetes
  • Screening for human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing for women 30 years and older
  • Screening for breast cancer (mammograms)
  • Screening for colorectal cancer (colonoscopies)
  • Screening for cervical cancer (Pap smears)
  • Counseling for sexually transmitted infections
  • Counseling and screening for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Domestic violence screening and counseling
  • FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling
  • Prenatal care
  • Blood pressure checks
  • Tobacco-use counseling and evidence-based tobacco-cessation interventions
  • Obesity screening

Public insurance programs, such as Medicare, on Jan. 1, 2011, started to cover without cost-sharing an annual wellness visit that includes a health-risk evaluation and a customized prevention plan based on individual needs. Similarly, in 2013, state Medicaid programs will have incentives to eliminate co-payments for preventive services and screening tests.

It is now our role, as health care providers, to educate our communities on the importance of looking for these preventives services and to help to increase the number of women having mammograms, colonoscopies, Pap smears, tobacco-use counseling and the other preventive services available without cost-sharing or co-payments.

The implementation of these services and the facilitation of access to the no co-payment screening tests will continue moving prevention as the main source of health in women and communities. Prevention and early detection of disease continue to be the fundamental actions to improve the health of our individuals, communities and nation. Therefore, it is vital for health care providers and community leaders to get involved in this new initiative.

As a gynecologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch, I have a strong commitment to women’s health and am pleased that we provide many of these services through our new Comprehensive Women's Health Care Center. The Center’s principal role will be to address all aspects of women’s health, treating for common medical illnesses and promoting wellness. This clinic will be co-located with the current women’s health clinics in both Galveston and Bay Colony.

Let’s start, everybody, making our female patients, friends, neighbors and family members aware of the new preventive services and tests available at no cost and their importance in women’s health.

Dr. Ana M. Rodriguez is an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UTMB. This article was published in various Texas newspapers in September 2012. 

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Read about new single incision hysterectomy


Robotic Surgery: Practical Examples in Gynecology, Dr. Sami Kilic, editor.

Dr. Sami Kilic is the lead editor of one of the first textbooks on robotic gynecological surgery, “Robotic Surgery: Practical Examples in Gynecology,” published Dec. 30, 2013.

Kilic, a pioneer in developing new robotic gynecological surgical techniques, is also devoted to teaching other physicians worldwide how to perform groundbreaking new robotic surgeries... [read more]

Contact Us:

We are pleased to serve patients at the following area locations:

Women's Specialty Care, Galveston 
Women's Specialty Care, Galveston
University Hospital Clinics
Third Floor
Galveston, Texas 
Phone: 409-772-9507 
Women’s Specialty Care,
League City
1804 FM 646, Suite N (at Bay Colony)
Phone: (832) 505-3010
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Women's HealthCare,
Nassau Bay
2060 Space Park Dr., Suite 308
Houston, TX 77058 
Phone: (832) 505-3057 
Fax: (281) 333-2772 

[view map] [driving directions]

Visit our related UTMB web sites:

Women's Specialty Care

UTMB Obstetrics & Gynecology
Pelvic Health and Continence Center 




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