minimally invasive surgery

What is minimally invasive surgery

harmonic trocars in use

The work we do at Ethicon is always driven by one important question: How can we advance surgery to improve your experience as a patient? More specifically, how can your recovery be faster? Can there be less scarring and less pain after your operation. We believe the answer is minimally invasive surgery.

In 1988, Dr. J. Barry McKernan, after making only a 10mm incision, inserted a laparoscope (or miniature camera) into a patient’s abdomen and removed a gall bladder. The patient recovered in days, rather than weeks or months. This was the first laparoscopic cholecystectomy performed in the U.S. and the beginning of the minimally invasive movement in surgery.

Since then, minimally invasive procedures have been changing the way people think about surgery. Patients who choose these innovative procedures over conventional surgery usually have shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery. This means getting back sooner to the things that are important in life.

How Minimally Invasive Procedures Work

Minimally invasive procedures, which include laparoscopic surgery, use state-of-the-art technology to reduce the damage to human tissue when performing surgery. For example, in most procedures, a surgeon makes several small ¾ inch incisions and inserts thin tubes called trocars. Carbon dioxide gas may be used to inflate the area, creating a space between the internal organs and the skin. Then a miniature camera (usually a laparoscope or endoscope) is placed through one of the trocars so the surgical team can view the procedure as a magnified image on video monitors in the operating room. Then, specialized instruments are placed through the other trocars to perform the procedures. In some cases, such as minimally invasive colon surgery, a slightly larger incision may be needed. But with others, like minimally invasive hemorrhoid procedures, no incisions or trocars are necessary.

There are some advanced minimally invasive surgical procedures that can be performed almost exclusively through a single point of entry – meaning only one small incision. This is called Single Site Laparoscopy, and is another approach to performing traditional laparoscopic surgery using the same tools.

Are you a candidate for a minimally invasive procedure?

These kinds of procedures are not for everyone and only your doctor can determine if a minimally invasive surgery is right for you. These procedures have been proven to be as effective as those of conventional surgery. And more than 20 million Americans have had them.

Benefits of minimally invasive procedures

Not only do these procedures usually provide equivalent outcomes to traditional "open" surgery (which sometimes require a large incision), but minimally invasive procedures (using small incisions) may offer significant benefits as well:

  • Quicker Recovery – Since a minimally invasive procedure requires smaller incisions than conventional surgery (usually about the diameter of a dime), your body may heal much faster.
  • Shorter Hospital Stays – Minimally invasive procedures help get you out of the hospital and back to your life sooner than conventional surgery.
  • Less scarring – Most incisions are so small that it's hard to even notice them after the incisions have healed.
  • Less pain – Because these procedures are less invasive than conventional surgery, there is typically less pain involved.

To learn more about minimally invasive procedures as they apply to your specific condition, please visit the following sections under Health Topics menu.

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