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da Vinci Assisted Take Down of a Rectovaginal Fistula Through a Posterior Vaginectomy

A rectovaginal fistula (RVF) is an epithelial lined tract between the rectum and vagina. This can result in recurrent urinary tract or vaginal infections, but also creates a significant psychosocial burden for the patient. Unfortunately, due to the individual complexities of these patients, they are difficult to manage despite the numerous surgical options presently described.1

Generally RVFs are classified as low, middle or high, due to the location of the rectal and vaginal opening. Due to this, both low and middle RVFs may be approached via anal, perineal or vaginal routes. Where as high RVFs, which have their vaginal opening near the cervix, generally require an abdominal approach for repair.2

Traditionally for high RVFs patients underwent open surgery; however, minimally invasive surgery has recently been widely accepted as the preferred approach. Although surgeons are becoming more facile with these approaches, both pelvic surgery and a reoperative abdomen still impose significant technical difficulties.3,4 Here, we present the video of a female with a complex surgical history including a hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy, creation and reversal of a Hartmann’s colostomy as well as a loop ileostomy due to a locally advanced recto-sigmoid cancer, who subsequently developed a rectovaginal fistula and was managed minimally invasively with a multidisciplinary novel approach through a posterior vaginectomy; an approach that utilized the enhanced magnification of the Robot, which improved visualization and allowed access into an uninflamed, virgin plane, resulting in minimal loss of vaginal length.


Milind D. Kachare, M.D.
Osvaldo Zumba, M.D.
Lorna Rodriguez-Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D.
Nell Maloney-Patel, M.D.

Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Hackensack University Medical Center, City of Hope National Medical Center

Laparoscopic Right Salpingo-oophorectomy in a patient at 17 weeks gestation


The prevalence of adnexal masses in pregnancy ranges from 0.05 to 2.4 percent and approximately 1 to 6 percent of these masses are malignant. Patients typically present on prenatal ultrasound asymptomatically but some can have abdominal and back pain as well. Concerns for the fetus and complications in pregnancy cause surgeries to be postponed until after delivery; however, some adnexal masses require evaluation for malignancy.

We present a case of a 28-year-old female with a cystic adnexal mass that required laparoscopic salpingo-oophorectomy at 17 weeks gestation.


After the patient was prepped and draped,the initial laparoscopic port was placed in the left upper quadrant, 3 cm below the costal margin and in the midclavicular line. This area, known as Palmer’s point, was chosen as the site for the initial port placement in order to avoid the gravid uterus. After intraperitoneal placement, the abdomen was insufflated with CO2 gas. Laparoscopic ports were placed at the umbilicus and in the right lower quadrant under direct visualization. The port placed at the umbilicus was an Applied Medical GelPOINT Advanced Access Platform. The entire abdominal and pelvic cavities were examined for any lesions. An initial washing was done to examine for malignant cells. The left ovary was examined and determined to be normal. The right ovary was noted to be enlarged, to approximately 10 cm, and was displaced into the posterior cul de sac. Next the infundibulopelvic ligament, broad ligament, ovarian vessels, and ureter are identified. The ureter, which is typically able to be identified at the pelvic brim where it crosses over the bifurcation of the iliac vessels and passes medially, was noted to be well below the plane of dissection. If the ureter is unable to be located trans-peritoneally, a peritoneal incision can be made parallel to the ovarian vessels and the ureter located retroperitoneally in the medial leaflet of the broad ligament. The right fallopian tube and right utero-ovarian ligament were transected using the Ligasure bipolar device. We evaluated for hemostasis of the pedicles. The right suspensory ligament of the ovary containing the ovarian vessels was then isolated and cauterized and transected using the Ligasure bipolar device.  A laparoscopic retrieval bag was introduced through the GelPOINT advanced access platform, the specimen was placed in the bag, and then the bag was brought to the surface of the patient’s abdomen. We were able to drain straw colored fluid from the cyst with the cyst contained safely within the bag. The remainder of the specimen was then able to be removed, contained within the bag. The patient’s abdomen was deflated and the ports were removed. The fascia at the umbilicus was closed with an 0 Vicryl (polyglactin) suture so as to avoid herniation at the site of the larger incision accommodating the GelPOINT. The rest of the ports were closed using subcuticular sutures.


Pathology revealed a mature cystic teratoma. The patient was discharged home on the same day of surgery with no complications. Fetal heart tones were within normal limits pre- and post-procedure. Laparoscopic surgery is a safe treatment for pregnant women with non-obstetrical surgical issues, including adnexal masses.

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