Finding Your Best Surgery Option

Reading Time: 5 minutes Most people don’t get excited by the thought of surgery. However, with the options available today, many surgeries can be performed with minimal pain or recovery time. What is the difference between minimally invasive and open surgery? And how can patients know which technique is best?

How do minimally invasive surgeries work?

In traditional open surgeries, a physician makes one large incision in order to see the surgical area and perform a certain procedure. In minimally invasive surgery (MIS), surgeons make minimal small incisions and use the assistance of small flexible cameras and lights to see inside the body. The cameras that are inserted through the small incisions project an image onto a screen that surgeons watch while performing the surgery.

Surgery of the future: using robotic help

Within minimally invasive surgery, there is also robotic surgery. Robotic surgical procedures are done with the help of a robotic-like arm that mimics the exact movements of a surgeon’s hand to perform the operation. Robotic techniques can allow for more precision of movement and allow the surgeon to see images in 3D.

What does minimally invasive mean?

Minimally invasive can be thought of as less trauma or stress to the body. By definition, all surgery is going to be somewhat invasive. With minimally invasive surgeries, however, the body doesn’t have to heal from the large incisions associated with open surgery. This means that patients typically recover faster, experience less pain, and go home sooner. Because these surgeries are associated with less pain, patients are also less likely to rely on pain medication during recovery.

So is MIS always better?

In some cases, performing less invasive surgery is a better option for the patient. A minimally invasive procedure may mean fewer risks and shorter recovery time. In some cases, however, open surgeries may still be safest so that the surgeon can fully see everything that is happening.

Additionally, sometimes a surgeon may switch to an open procedure during a minimally invasive one if the surgeon deems this necessary for the patient’s safety. MIS is not inherently better than open procedures in every situation. However, when MIS is an option, many surgeons and patients prefer a less invasive procedure.

Talk to your surgeon about this gamechanger

When possible, minimally invasive surgery can be a gamechanger. The procedures can mean shorter recovery and less pain. Patients who have been recommended for surgery should consult with a surgeon on an individual basis regarding the risks and benefits of minimally invasive and open procedures.

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Dwight Tyndall, MD, FAAOS

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