Skip to content

Information and Resources

Surgery Lite: Understanding Endoscopic Surgery

When is minimally invasive surgery better than traditional surgery? What are the risks?
Font Size
A
A
A

What are the advantages of endoscopic surgery?

"There are a lot of reasons people want minimally invasive surgery," says Argenziano. "Some don't want a scar. Others are focused on returning to normal life as quickly as possible. Others are trying to avoid the trauma of traditional surgery, especially if they have had it before and can't bear going through recovery again."

Minimally invasive techniques reduce the risk of infection and allow faster recovery. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, you may need only one night in a hospital -- or none at all -- after laparoscopic gallbladder removal. After traditional surgery, you would be hospitalized for about five days.

Experts agree that for many common operations, minimally invasive techniques are as good or better than traditional procedures. Some, like laparoscopic gallbladder removal, have become the new standard.

Drawbacks and Safety Issues With Endoscopic Surgery

There are a few key drawbacks to endoscopic, or minimally invasive surgery:

  • Endoscopic operations may last longer.
  • They may be more difficult for the surgeon.
  • As a result, surgeons should be well-trained and experienced to perform these surgeries well.

"I've always said that minimally invasive surgery takes the pain of surgery away from the patient and gives it to the surgeon," says Argenziano. "That's still true, to some extent."

But there can be advantages to minimally invasive operations even for the surgical team. In many cases, the surgeon can see much more clearly with laparoscopic surgery, says William J. Hoskins, MD, Director of the Anderson Cancer Institute at the Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Ga.

And with a surgeon who is experienced with minimally invasive surgery, the operation may go quickly.

"Ninety percent of the cardiac operations that I do with minimally invasive techniques don't take any longer than traditional surgery," says Argenziano. "A few are actually faster."

What is the safety record of endoscopic surgery?

It's impossible to generalize about the safety of minimally invasive surgery. It depends on the specific operation.

Common laparoscopic procedures, like the removal of a gallbladder or appendix, are known to be as safe as open surgery. But that isn't the case for some newer, experimental techniques. For some forms of heart surgery or cancer treatment, for instance, we just don't know how well they work.

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

feet
Solutions for 19 types.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
pregnancy test and calendar
Helping you get pregnant.
man rubbing painful knee
A visual guide.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
woman standing behind curtains
How it affects you.
brain scan with soda
Tips to avoid complications.
row of colored highlighter pens
Tips for living better.
human lungs
Symptoms, causes, treatments.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
two male hands
Test your knowledge.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.