Abdominal surgeries were revolutionized in the 1980s when minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery was first used to remove a gallbladder. It would be another 10 years before the technology caught up and instruments were available for minimally invasive intestinal surgery. Since then, M. Jonathan Worsey, MD, FRCS, FACS, FASCRS, and Keith Beiermeister, MD, FACS, FASCRS, at San Diego Colon and Rectal Surgeons in La Jolla, California, have done thousands of minimally invasive intestinal surgeries. To learn if your surgery can be done using minimally invasive techniques, call or book an appointment online.

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What is minimally invasive surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery is a procedure done using small incisions. Dr. Beiermeister or Dr. Worsey may insert a narrow tube into the incision that’s about one-half inch wide. Then they use specialized surgical instruments that fit through the tube to complete your surgery.

The primary instrument is a scope containing a light and video camera. The scope sends magnified images from inside your body to a monitor, which your surgeon views as he does your surgery.

When doing minimally invasive intestinal surgery, Dr. Beiermeister and Dr. Worsey use either a traditional laparoscope or a robotic camera. The instruments needed to do your surgery are inserted through additional small incisions/ports.

What conditions are treated with minimally invasive surgery?

Dr. Beiermeister and Dr. Worsey treat many of the most common colon and rectal conditions using a minimally invasive approach. For example, surgery for diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and cancer can be done using minimally invasive techniques.

What procedures are done using minimally invasive surgery?

Most surgeries in the past were done using open surgery, which called for a large incision and the use of retractors to hold the skin open. Many of these surgeries can now be done with minimally invasive surgery.

Though this isn’t a comprehensive list, these are a few examples of surgeries that can be done using a minimally invasive procedure:

Ileal Pouch Anal Anastomosis
When you need surgery inside your rectum or colon, Dr. Beiermeister and Dr. Worsey use specialized equipment to perform these procedures trans-anally on prder to avoid complete removal of the rectum.

How is robotic surgery different from laparoscopic surgery?

Robotic surgery and laparoscopic surgery are both considered “minimally invasive surgery” but differ in the instrumentation that is used to perform the surgery. The first da Vinci robotic system (Intuitive Surgical) was developed approximately 20 years ago and has since undergone multiple upgrades. Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla currently has two of the last generation da Vinci Xi surgical systems.

Compared with traditional minimally invasive approaches, robotic-assisted surgery gives the surgeon better control of the surgical instruments and better visualization of the surgical field with the use of 3D optics. This is essentially advantageous when working within the confines of the abdomen and pelvis.

It should be noted that Dr. Beiermeister is the only board-certified, fellowship-trained colon and rectal surgeon on the campus of Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla that performs robotic-assisted surgery. He also the system-wide general surgery representative for the Scripps robotic surgery joint operating committee.

What benefits does minimally invasive surgery provide?

Minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopic and robotic) causes significantly less tissue damage compared to traditional open surgery. As a result, the benefits of minimally invasive surgery include:

Less pain after your surgery
Lower risk of infection
Reduced blood loss during surgery
Quicker recovery time
Faster return to activity
Minimal scarring
Shorter hospital stays
Most minimally invasive procedures require 2-3 days in the hospital, compared to 5-10 days for conventional surgery. Additionally, most patients return to their normal activities within two weeks of laparoscopic surgery.

If you have questions about minimally invasive surgery, call San Diego Colon and Rectal Surgeons or schedule an appointment online.