Minimally Invasive Surgery
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This fact sheet was developed in collaboration with The Society of Reproductive Surgeons.
Surgery is termed “minimally invasive” if it uses small or no incisions (cuts). Surgeons see your body’s organs with the help of small telescopes and cameras. Surgical repairs are made with very small instruments. Most problems can be treated at the time of diagnosis as one procedure.
Some common types of minimally invasive surgery are listed below:
- Laparoscopy involves placing a lighted telescope (called a laparoscope) with a camera into your belly through a very small incision in the belly button. This allows the surgeon to see inside your belly and pelvis.
- Robotic laparoscopy uses laparoscopic instruments controlled by a surgeon seated at a console.
- Hysteroscopy uses a lighted telescope (called a hysteroscope) that is inserted through the vagina and cervix (neck of the womb) to see the inside of the uterus (womb). There are no incisions made.
Benefits of minimally invasive surgery
Fewer scars on the outside
Scars from minimally invasive surgery are much smaller than in traditional open surgery. Laparoscopy involves 1 incision in the belly button and 1 to 3 others in the lower belly. These incisions are usually 1/4-1/2 inch long. Hysteroscopy leaves no scar because the instrument goes through the natural opening (neck of the womb) from the vagina into the uterus.
Fewer scars on the inside
In general, all surgery can cause adhesions or scar tissue inside your lower belly abdomen). These scars can cause pain, problems with getting pregnant, or bowel blockage. Minimally invasive surgery may cause less scarring.
Minimally invasive surgery doesn’t usually require a woman to stay overnight in the hospital, compared with 2 to 4 days after open surgery. This reduces the risk for problems such as blood clots in the legs or infection.
Less pain, less medication
Because incisions are smaller, minimally invasive surgery is less painful than open surgery. This means that women need less pain medication and recover more quickly.
Disadvantages of minimally invasive surgery
It’s not suitable for everyone
Some minimally invasive surgery is riskier for women who have had previous “open” surgery in the upper or lower part of their belly, or women with other medical problems. The surgeon may have other reasons to choose open, and not minimally invasive, surgery. Not all surgeries can be done with minimally invasive techniques.
Special training and equipment
Surgeons need special training before they can perform minimally invasive surgery. Not all doctors are qualified to do these types of procedures and not all hospitals have the special equipment necessary to do some or all of these kinds of surgeries.
You should speak to your doctor to find out what type of surgery is best for you.