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Dianne Hoff's Crash Course in Fast Recovery

Dianne Hoff was amazed at how fast she recovered from robotic surgery.

She missed only a few days of work and didn’t need pain medicine after having a robotically-assisted full hysterectomy and oophorectomy at Tanner Health System.

“I was really fascinated and pleased with how this allowed me to recover so quickly and get on with my life within just a few days,” Hoff said. “Research and technology have resulted in some incredible medical advancements.”Dianne Hoff

It wasn’t what she expected when her doctor first suggested a hysterectomy.

“I had heard stories about women being out for weeks after a hysterectomy, and I knew that wasn’t practical for me as a university dean,” said Hoff, who serves as dean of the College of Education at the University of West Georgia.

Minimally-invasive surgery — whether laparoscopic or robotic — allows surgeons to make smaller incisions, resulting in less pain, a quicker recovery, a lower risk of infection and less blood loss, said Megan Grilliot, MD, a board-certified obstetrics and gynecology specialist with West Georgia OB/GYN (now Tanner Healthcare for Women) who performed Hoff’s surgery.

According to Dr. Grilliot, the modern minimally-invasive surgical techniques available at Tanner dramatically improve patients’ experiences and their recoveries.

“Surgery is just not what it used to be,” said Dr. Grilliot. “The approaches are different and the recoveries are different.”

Hoff chose to undergo a hysterectomy to reduce her risk of developing ovarian cancer after learning that she tested positive for a BRCA genetic mutation. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that help prevent tumors. Inherited mutations in these BRCA genes increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers, and they have been associated with an increased risk of other types of cancers.

Hoff wasn’t surprised when her results came back positive for the BRCA 2 genetic mutation, indicating that she was at high risk for developing ovarian and breast cancer: she had already overcome breast cancer at 40, her father and brother both had pancreatic cancer and her niece had stage 3 breast cancer at 30.

“Our family had noticed a significant pattern over the last two generations of people having cancer at an earlier than normal age,” said Hoff, whose brother got the idea to do genetic testing to look for an explanation.

Some women who have the BRCA genetic mutation make the decision with their doctors to proactively have a hysterectomy and/or mastectomy to reduce their risk of developing cancer.

“I think that is something that we are going to see more of as public awareness grows,” Dr. Grilliot said. “The fact that we can do genetic testing to identify women who are at high risk for developing malignancy and actually perform procedures that can prevent those cancers is very promising.”

Dr. Grilliot explained that doctors would never perform an elective hysterectomy on a woman until her family was complete, but said there are other steps that younger women can take if they carry a BRCA genetic mutation. For example, they can get a diagnostic mammogram every six months or undergo additional screenings, such as breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Also, some birth-control pills have been shown to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.

“It’s important even for young woman to consider this and know their options,” said Dr. Grilliot, who also serves as medical operations leader for Tanner Women’s Care.

Hoff, who is in her 60s, said she feels great and is very glad she had the hysterectomy.

“Given my active lifestyle, this was a small inconvenience that could have life-saving implications,” Hoff said.