Know More About Minimally Invasive Surgery

By Dr. Edith del Mar Behr
General Surgery, Pottstown Memorial Medical Center

POTTSTOWN PA – Minimally invasive surgery – also known as endoscopic, laparoscopic, or arthroscopic surgery – uses technology to limit incision size and tissue disruption while accomplishing the same goals as traditional surgery. While minimally invasive procedures result in less scarring and shorter recovery times, they come with other risks which a patient should be aware of if a doctor recommends the procedure.

Dr. Edith del Mar Behr

Dr. Edith del Mar Behr

Minimally invasive surgery is called “minimally invasive” because smaller incisions are made. Using specialized techniques, miniature cameras and light sources, a surgeon makes a series of small incisions or a single small incision rather than a large incision.

The cameras and lights allow the surgeon to see inside to perform the surgery, which results in less blood loss, fewer surgical scars, and less recovery time. Patients who have minimally invasive surgeries are able to leave the hospital and perform regular activities more quickly than patients who have conventional surgery.

Minimally invasive procedures can be performed for various types of surgeries, including heart and lung, all abdominal, gynecological and urological surgeries. Neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery offer minimally invasive options as well. Specialized doctors and tiny tools make the large range of minimally invasive surgeries possible.

The specifics of the surgeries vary as much as what is being operated on but, in most cases, small cameras allow surgeons to be precise with these small instruments by projecting images from inside the body onto large screens. Newer technology is offering 3D cameras as well.

Minimally invasive surgery in some complicated cases is more time-consuming and delicate than traditional surgery. This, though, still depends on the surgery being performed. For instance, the removal of a gallbladder or appendix is one of the most commonly practiced minimally invasive surgeries. These are often completed quickly and are as safe as traditional surgery.

Surgical removal of cancer, though, can be more challenging with minimally invasive surgery. If your doctor suggests a minimally invasive surgery, ask for specifics and check to see if it is one that is well established as the national standard of care. Factors such as the patient’s health and history also come into play in the decision to perform minimally invasive surgery.

Minimally invasive surgeries vary in their incision sizes, operating times, and the tools used. Ask your doctor how often he or she has performed the surgery and the success rates. Ask how long it will take to recover. Some minimally invasive surgeries can be done as outpatient procedures and others require a hospital stay; be sure you know which you will be having.

Minimally invasive surgery can be a wonderful option for some patients and for some procedures, but like any surgery it is important to learn about your surgery beforehand Being informed will help soothe anxiety and be better prepared for the recovery process.

Edith del Mar Behr, M.D. is a member of the active medical staff at Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, Department of Surgery. Dr. Behr graduated from the Medical College of Pennsylvania. She completed residency training at Mercy Catholic Medical Center. Dr. Behr specializes in general surgery and is board certified by the American Board of Surgery. She is in practice with TriCounty Surgical Associates, 13 Armand Hammer Blvd, Suite 310.

Photo from Pottstown Memorial Medical Center