Henry Mayo physician leads the way for vNOTES

Courtesy of Dr. Mwanga Kazadi.
Courtesy of Dr. Mwanga Kazadi.
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As technology progresses, so do its benefits for people in areas such as health. An example is vNOTES, which is a relatively new procedure designed to minimize the invasive nature of hysterectomies for women.  

According to its website, “vNOTES (vaginal natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery) modernizes vaginal surgery. New advanced access platforms enable access into the peritoneal cavity through the vagina, effectively combining the benefits of laparoscopic and traditional vaginal surgery.” 

Rather than having women endure multiple incisions, such as through the abdomen, vNOTES allows physicians to utilize the vaginal canal — where the specialized instruments allow for the access and visualization of organs, such as the uterus. In comparison to a laparoscopic procedure, “vNOTES solves the challenges of vaginal surgery by allowing additional visualization. It enables you to see the patient’s anatomy, as well as any scar tissue or adhesions,” according to its website. 

The cited benefits of vNotes include no scars, less pain, more abdominal and pelvic exploration, faster recovery and fewer infections. 

Dr. Mwanga Kazadi, a physician who works at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, has been in Santa Clarita for just six months since moving from the Sacramento area. However, she has also trailblazed and advocated for this new effort in women’s health.   

“It’s an amazing innovation. It came to the U.S. around three years ago, and around 10 years in Europe,” Kazadi said. “The first time I heard about it, it seemed like a very strange concept. But with the pandemic and everything shutting down and not being able to see patients normally, it opened up a lot of time on my calendar.” 

Eventually, once learning more about the practice and familiarizing herself with it during COVID-19, vNOTES is now a no-brainer to Kazadi. 

“Now it makes sense. The technology had to progress, but it’s just such a better way to do it. Not just cosmetically since there are no scars, but you’re also operating where your pathology is,” Kazadi said. “Instead of making a whole bunch of other openings, we’re just basically using the opening that’s already there. Full-term babies come through there.” 

It may be hard to conceptualize at first, but vNOTES utilizes the same methods of laparoscopic hysterectomies with the help of the advancement of technology. 

“It’s very similar to what we have been doing for a long time, which is called laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy. With that, you do go in through the stomach, and you make small incisions going with the camera. But with this, the difference is instead of going through the stomach, all the cameras go into the vagina.” 

Although there is no certification, a one-day course, along with extensive practice, allows the physician to learn more about the procedure in depth. Kazadi is encouraging her colleagues to look into it, as well.  

“I talk to my colleagues because I’m very passionate about it, and I’m trying to convince others to start doing it, as well. It combined the same techniques I’ve been doing. It’s just a different way of looking at it.” 

Kazadi and her patients feel positive toward this change, and she hopes that more gynecologists will begin to move in this direction. 

“It just feels great to be able to offer it to women — I just think it’s such a great option. So many women can benefit from it, and I think that it’s the future of how we do hysterectomies,” Kazadi said. “I think that over time, more and more people are going to be doing it. It’s an exciting, innovative procedure and I’m just hoping to be able to branch as many people as possible.” 

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