Share this page:

Advancements In Minimally Invasive Surgery

Today, complex conditions such as cancer, uterine prolapse, fibroids and even heart disease can be treated with minimally invasive surgery. Minimally invasive surgery relies on special cameras and equipment inserted through small incisions to perform the surgery. Minimally invasive surgery can be performed in a variety of ways: via laparoscopy or da Vinci robotic surgery.


Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgical technique performed through either the abdomen or pelvis. The doctor can take out organs such as the spleen, the gallbladder, the appendix, an ovary, a fallopian tube, or part of the intestine. He or she can repair a hernia or take out small tumors, cysts, or other growths. It is usually performed in a hospital setting under general anesthesia. During the procedure, a laparoscope, a narrow instrument attached to a camera, is inserted into 1-5 millimeter incisions, making the surgical area viewable on video monitors located in the operating room. The surgery is then performed by inserting various instruments through the laparoscope.


Robot-assisted surgeries are performed using the da Vinci Surgical System. During da Vinci procedures, the surgeon is seated at a console that displays a magnified 3D image of the surgical site. Through the computer console, the surgeon uses master controls to make hand movements. When the controls are manipulated, da Vinci responds in real time, translating hand, wrist and finger movements into precise movements of miniaturized instruments at the patient side cart. Physicians train for months and event years to be able to perform robotic surgery. At El Camino Hospital, we are proud to have some of the most experienced robotic surgeons who donate their time to train other physicians.

While most open procedures require long incisions, minimally invasive procedures are done through small incisions, usually 5mm or less. This allows for quicker recovery time and less pain, among other benefits.

Benefits of minimally invasive surgery include:

  • Smaller incisions
  • Less pain
  • Less scarring
  • Minimal blood loss
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Faster recovery time
  • Fewer complications, including risk of infection

If you need surgery, ask your physician if you are a candidate for a minimally invasive procedure. Not all patients are candidates, and your doctor will work with you to determine the best plan of action for your specific diagnosis. Here are some questions to bring along with you in discussing treatment options with your physician:

  • What is my diagnosis?
  • Are there alternate (non-surgical) treatment options available for my condition?
  • Am I a good candidate for minimally invasive surgery? Why or why not?
  • Please describe how the surgery is performed.
  • How many surgeries like this do you perform each year?
  • What is your complication rate?
  • What do I need to do to prepare for surgery?
  • What type of anesthesia will I need?
  • Will I experience pain during or after surgery, and if so, what can be done to manage it?
  • When will I be able to resume normal activities?

This article first appeared in the April 2015 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.