A Groundbreaking Technique for Minimally Invasive Surgery

Dr. Kate O’Hanlan, the daughter of a surgeon and a nurse, was exposed to the world of medicine at a very early age. She didn’t let the fact that the profession was male-dominated at the time deter her—she was focused on her goal of becoming a doctor. In medical school, Dr. O’Hanlan first studied cardiology but gradually shifted her focus to women’s health. She completed a fellowship in gynecologic oncology and went on to train other doctors in gynecologic cancer surgery.

At the same time, Dr. O’Hanlan began studying laparoscopic surgical techniques and learned about the benefits that much smaller incisions yielded for patients—less pain, blood loss and scarring, shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery times—compared with more traditional and invasive open methods. She saw the potential to improve outcomes for her patients and began to explore the implications of laparoscopy for hysterectomy and the management of gynecologic cancers.

In 1992, Dr. O’Hanlan began developing her groundbreaking technique for Total Laparoscopic Hysterectomy (TLH) in order to bring the benefits of laparoscopic surgery to her hysterectomy patients. She has since performed more than 1,500 such surgeries with successful results.

In 2006, to ensure that more women could benefit from TLH, Dr. O’Hanlan founded the Laparoscopic Institute for Gynecologic Oncology to teach fellow physicians her minimally invasive approach. Leading clinical discussions and workshops and bringing in nationally recognized faculty to help demonstrate the techniques, Dr. O’Hanlan has created a forum in which she already has trained more than 1,250 gynecologic surgeons from all over the world. Dr. O’Hanlan is a noteworthy example of an American physician paving the way for life changing medical innovation.