Minimally Invasive Surgical Techniques Offer Many Benefits

With modern minimally invasive surgery techniques, you usually don’t have to sit on the sidelines for months recovering. Minimally invasive, or laparoscopic surgery, allows patients to return to their everyday lives much quicker than traditional open surgery.

Laparoscopic versus open surgery

Dr. James Tayoun of Shore Physicians Group is a Board Certified General and Vascular Surgeon specializing in minimally invasive and laparoscopic surgery. He says, “Should you need surgery, you want it done with the least amount of trauma, less impact on surrounding tissue, and a smaller incision with less scarring. Laparoscopic surgery allows patients to get back to work and back to what they enjoy much quicker than traditional open surgery. With a large incision, the body needs to spend so much of its energy healing that wound. There can be issues with the pain of a large incision, making daily tasks such as walking more difficult. Pain can also interfere with breathing and slow down recovery.”

Laparoscopic surgery helps patients avoid large open wounds or incisions, thus decreasing blood loss, pain, and discomfort. Patients have fewer unwanted effects from analgesia because less is required. According to the National Institute of Health, fine instruments are less apt to cause tissue trauma and blood loss.

A mind is a powerful tool

“Minimally invasive surgery has a psychological advantage as well,” said Dr. Tayoun. “If you can get back to your normal, if you can ambulate, if the pain is not causing issues with breathing, and you can participate in activities that you did before the surgery, you will feel more like yourself, and it will honestly help shorten your recuperation.”

Thanks to improvements in technology

Dr. Tayoun said the first laparoscopic techniques were used in 1901. “They were much larger and rudimentary back then when they initially used them for obstetrics. But the changes in instruments and techniques are constantly improving. The instrumentation, the scopes, and the cameras have made so many surgeries much more direct, surgeries that used to sideline patients for a long recovery time like gallbladder removal, hernias, and appendectomy.”

During laparoscopy, the surgeon will make a small incision, about 1 to 1.5cm (0.4 to 0.6 inches), usually near the patient’s belly button. A tube is inserted through the incision and gas, typically carbon dioxide, is pumped through the tube to inflate the abdomen. According to Dr. Tayoun, inflating the abdomen allows the surgeon to see the organs more clearly and affords more room to work. A laparoscope, a narrow tool with a light and video camera at the end, is then inserted through this tube. The laparoscope relays images to a screen in the operating room, where the team can get a clear view of the whole area.

Laparoscopy is for diagnosis and treatment

If the laparoscopy is used to carry out the surgical treatment, such as removing your appendix, further incisions will be made in your abdomen. Tiny surgical instruments can be inserted through these incisions, and the surgeon can guide them to the right place using the view from the laparoscope. Once in place, the instruments can be used to carry out the required treatment.

After the procedure, the carbon dioxide is released from the abdomen, incisions are closed, and a dressing is applied. As Dr. Tayoun explained, laparoscopic surgery is done under a general anesthetic, so the patient will not feel any pain during the procedure. When laparoscopy is used to diagnose a condition, the procedure may take 30-60 minutes. If the surgeon is treating a condition, it will take longer. Dr. Tayoun cautioned that patients often think laparoscopic surgery will be shorter than open surgery because of the smaller incision. However, that is not the case. Laparoscopic surgery takes roughly the same amount of time as open surgery.

Huge strides for gallbladder surgery

Fatty foods can be tough on our digestive system. The gallbladder’s job is to help break down those fatty foods and push them through to the intestines. The gallbladder is a small organ, roughly the size of a robin’s egg, and is in the upper right lobe of the liver. It is part of the digestive system and stores bile, made chiefly of cholesterol, bilirubin, and bile salts, which aids in the digestion of fatty foods. It can grow to the size of a pear, and after we consume a meal, it emulsifies the food and sends it on to the small intestine.

Dr. Tayoun said the gallbladder function is like a triangle with all three sides the same. “Think of one side of the triangle as fluid – in this case, bile. Another side of the triangle is solvent or cholesterol. The third side of the triangle is the motion that keeps it flowing. If one of those three sides of the triangle is off, it will not function properly, and the gallbladder will begin to give you problems,” said Dr. Tayoun. “The good thing, while the gallbladder is important, it is not an essential organ, and if it is diseased, if it should need removal, we can do that easily through a laparoscopic procedure. The patient can often go home the same day, and while they may have some minor discomfort, recovery is normally pretty straightforward, and they are back to work and back to their normal life rather quickly.”

But that bounce back from gallbladder surgery using traditional open surgical procedures can be long and uncomfortable. As Dr. Tayoun explained, in open surgery, the gallbladder location necessitates a larger incision and moving around muscles to gain access to the gallbladder. Likewise, laparoscopic surgery reduces trauma to the body in other surgeries such as appendectomies and repairing a hernia.

The cure

“Minimally invasive techniques allow me to do the most important part of my job as a surgeon: cure the patient. I am able to use technology and go in and take care of what it is that was causing you pain and negatively impacting your life. I can fix that, and you will feel better. Your life will be more enjoyable because the pain you had, or whatever made you sick, is taken care of,” concluded Dr. Tayoun.