Rarely does a day go by that Dr. A. Ben Abdu, MD, isn’t amazed at the strength of his female patients.
Dr. Abdu focuses on minimally invasive gynecological surgeries at Regional One Health. His training focused on advanced laparoscopy, minimally invasive female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, vaginal surgery, tubal reversals, female urology and pelvic pain medicine. He primarily works out of Regional One Health’s East Campus, which houses a hub of super sub-specialty women’s services including minimally invasive GYN surgery, urogynecology and reproductive medicine.
It’s there that Dr. Abdu interacts with patients who never cease to amaze him by their resiliency to continue on despite pelvic issues.
“I think women are amazing and innovative in their approach to their problem,” he said. “Women find unique ways to deal with their problems and live with them. They think it’s just part of aging. They’re thinking, ‘I’m 56, I’ve had three kids and it’s just par for the course.’ No ma’am, it’s not par for the course. It always blows my mind and I say to them, ‘You know I can fix that?’ It makes me in awe of women.”
Dr. Abdu works with women experiencing a range of pelvic issues that have been undiagnosed or inadequately treated. Those issues include chronic pelvic pain, history of endometriosis, painful periods, pain during intercourse, leaking urine or a vaginal bulge. Dr. Abdu also is the only surgeon in Memphis who does tubal reversal procedures robotically.
Dr. Abdu’s laparoscopic approach is a low-risk, minimally invasive procedure. There are only small incisions for the use of a laparoscope, which basically is a long, thin tube with a high-resolution camera at the front that allows the physician to see the internal organs without open surgery.
“I think the benefit of a laparoscope, whether it’s traditional or robotics, is visualization,” Dr. Abdu said. “It’s the ability to see the anatomy, to see a magnified view of the abdomen and, in the case of the robot, a 3D view.”
Early in his career Dr. Abdu said he knew he enjoyed the operating room, but he wasn’t sure which direction to pursue. He briefly considered oncology and urogynecology but a friend mentioned he should consider a minimally invasive gynecology surgery fellowship, so Dr. Abdu ultimately completed the AAGL Fellowship. The AAGL promotes minimally invasive gynecologic surgery worldwide, and was founded in 1971 as the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists.
The fellowship exposed Dr. Abdu to laparoscopy as well as endometriosis and other issues typically associated with urogynecology.
Dr. Abdu received his medical degree at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and later interned at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Chattanooga where he stayed and worked in private practice for several years before being asked to join UT Regional One Physicians in Memphis.
Dr. Abdu had a conversation with the medical director of Regional One Health’s High Risk Obstetrics center, Dr. Giancarlo Mari, MD, about becoming the director of the Division of Minimally Invasive GYN Surgery at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and bringing his skills to Regional One Health.
“That first phone call I remember sitting at my desk back in Chattanooga and thinking, ‘Wow, that went really well.’ He’s a great guy who’s excited about the department, and I just felt an instant connection to him,” Dr. Abdu said. “And true to form from my interviews and from the time I’ve been here he’s been incredibly supportive. He’s basically handed me this vision for minimally invasive gynecological surgery and said, ‘Build this. Grow this.’ That’s been awesome.”
Dr. Abdu moved to Memphis in summer 2016, replacing the retired Dan Martin who was a former president of AAGL and someone Dr. Abdu holds in high regard.
While he has great respect and admiration for his patients and how they find ways to manage their health, Dr. Abdu said it is also a challenge.
“A lot of times I see a woman who just lives with it until they just can’t. They go to other places and they’re dismissed or have the wrong surgery and by the time they get to me they’re frustrated sitting across from me with their arms crossed and thinking, ‘What’s this guy going to say now?’ That’s challenging,” Dr. Abdu said.
But Dr. Abdu immediately goes to work breaking down those walls, letting a patient know that while he will review their chart and records from previous doctors, he also will step back with a fresh set of eyes and reconsider everything and understand every possibility before he proceeds.
“I’m here to help,” he said. “I love what I do and I love Memphis. I say this to a lot of patients and I say it sincerely. There are no guarantees in medicine. But the one thing I can give at the end of the day is my 100 percent guarantee that I’m meticulous, and I give the care to my patients that I would expect for a family member.”