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Minimally Invasive Surgery

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By Jack Forest, DO; EMPORIA, VA - Minimally invasive surgery, also known as endoscopic, laparoscopic, or arthroscopic surgery, uses technology to limit cutting 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.

Minimally invasive surgery is called “minimally invasive” because fewer and smaller incisions are made. Using specialized techniques and 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 heart surgeries, many colon and rectal surgeries, as well as gastroenterological, gynecological, neurological and orthopedic procedures. 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 the surgeons to be precise with these small instruments by projecting images from inside the body onto large screens.

Minimally invasive surgery is often 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. It has had less testing than the surgeries to remove the gallbladder and appendix. If your doctor suggests a minimally invasive surgery, ask for specifics and check to see if it is one that is well established or if it is still in the testing stages. Factors such as the patient’s health and history also come into play in the decision to perform minimally invasive surgery. If the patient is sick or weak, minimally invasive surgery may not be the best option because of the long operating time.

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 familiar your nurses and anesthesiologists are with minimally invasive procedures. 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, since being informed will help smooth the surgery and recovery process.

The information in this article was provided by Jack Forest, DO, who is certified by American Osteopathic Board of Surgery.  Dr. Forest’s practice, Southern Virginia Medical Group is located at 317 North Main Street in Emporia.  For more information on services offered by Dr. Forest or to schedule an appointment, call at 434-336-1222.


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