Today's operating room looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. Equipped with robotic arms, miniscule surgical tools and plasma TV screens, it’s loaded with new technologies that are minimally invasive surgery's tools of the trade. As surgery continues to advance, incisions are getting smaller. The length of a typical incision for a minimally invasive surgery is so small you may not even know it’s there.
Dr. Deanna Mansker, a general surgeon at Beaufort Memorial, was one of the first surgeons in the Lowcountry to use this technique.
Minimally invasive surgery uses tiny cameras and surgical instruments to perform surgical procedures inside the body. “The da Vinci robot is a tool we use at BMH to help us perform surgeries,” says Mankser. “Single site surgery is a relatively new technology. We’ve gone from open surgeries with a large cut to one small cut in the belly button.
|Cholecystectomy incision comparison between laparoscopic surgery with multiple incisions (left) and daVinci Single-Site surgery (right).|
With traditional surgeries, an incision that is large enough for the physician's hands and surgical tools is required. In contrast, minimally invasive surgery requires a small incision, usually about an inch or so, to insert the surgical tools. In fact, the lighted camera itself is only about the size of a pea.
“Gallbladder removal used to be a very major surgery that kept people in the hospital for a week,” Mansker explains. “They would have a large and very painful cut. In the late 80s they switched to doing it laparoscopically. Now, with minimally invasive surgery and the da Vinci robot, most people can go home the same day or the next.”
Beyond avoiding large scars (who wants one of those?), minimally invasive procedures typically offer patients a dramatically easier recovery. “Minimally invasive surgery is less painful for the patient in many instances,” Mansker says. “When I perform gallbladder surgery, I’m able to do it with just one incision right in the belly button. Oftentimes, patients won’t even see a scar after this operation.”