Minimally Invasive Surgery
Surgery is being molded to reach ever-higher
goals of patient care, comfort and efficiency.
Surgeons, specialists and researchers are working
together to create procedures to advance the
field of surgery, and nowhere is this more evident
than within Penn Surgery at Penn Medicine. Learn
more about minimally invasive surgery at these
Penn Surgery is comprised of surgical teams
at each of its three hospitals: Pennsylvania
Hospital, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and
the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
These surgeons are working to improve and develop
procedures for patients from the Delaware Valley
and around the world, particularly in the field
of minimally invasive surgery.
In fact, the University
of Pennsylvania is one of the few Centers of
Surgical Excellence in the country, which emphasizes
education to both research and teach minimally
invasive surgical procedures. Our commitment
to this field is evident in our new surgical
suite at Penn Presbyterian
Medical Center, specifically
designed with the latest technology for minimally
invasive procedures, including robotics, an
array of flat screen monitors, and ergonomically-correct,
permanently-mounted surgical tools.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
Minimally invasive surgical techniques, commonly
referred to as keyhole techniques, belly-button
surgery, or laparoscopy, were aggressively developed
in the 1990s. Using these techniques, surgeons
can diagnose or treat patients, and in some cases
remove or repair a part of the body, without performing
a major incision during surgery. In fact, they
are able to operate through much smaller incisions
that ever before.
Traditional abdominal surgery requires a large
incision in the abdomen to divide skin and muscle
in order to provide the surgeon with a direct
view of the body's interior. Using minimally
invasive surgery, the surgeon makes several
small incisions or uses one of the body's natural
openings to insert several long, thin tubes
A special needle with carbon dioxide
gas is inserted to inflate the body's interior
and provide the surgeon with room to operate.
The surgeon inserts specialized instruments
through the canulas to operate on the body's
internal region. A tiny camera transmits an
image of the body's interior to a video screen.
This powerful imaging technology enables surgeons
to reach their intended area within the body
quickly and precisely.
When a surgeon performs a "belly-button
surgery", this is through the navel. Laparoscopy
is an examination of the abdominal cavity through
a laparoscope, a slender tube that is equipped
with a tiny video camera and a light source that
provides surgeons with a clear magnified view
of the patient's internal organs on a video screen
or monitor. The surgeon watches the image of the
body's interior on the monitor as a guide throughout
In comparison to traditional surgery, minimally
invasive surgery has the following advantages:
- Less trauma to the body
- Reduced post-operative pain
- Enhanced cosmetic effect (smaller scars)
- Reduced length of stay in hospital (usually
same-day surgery or one night in the hospital)
- Reduced post-surgical recovery and quicker
return to normal activities, including work.
Unfortunately, not every patient is a candidate
for this type of procedure, therefore you should
speak to your physician about your surgical options.
Although minimally invasive surgery is less invasive
than traditional "open" surgery, no
surgery is minor. Surgeons who perform minimally
invasive surgery advise patients to remember that
these procedures have many benefits, but they
also carry the risks of traditional surgery.
Patients who schedule a minimally invasive surgery
should prepare for bed rest immediately following
the procedure and several weeks of recovery. In
most cases, minimally invasive surgeries require
general anesthesia and therefore, patients should
abstain from food or drink after midnight prior
to their procedure.
Minimally invasive procedures are performed in
a variety of specialties throughout the University
of Pennsylvania Health System, including: