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Types of Minimally Invasive Surgery

Robotic surgery

Minimally Invasive surgery

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Advanced robotic systems give doctors greater control and vision during surgery, allowing them to perform safe, less invasive, and precise surgical procedures.

During robotic-assisted surgery, surgeons operate from a console equipped with two master controllers that maneuver four robotic arms. By viewing a high-definition 3-D image on the console, the surgeon is able to see the surgical procedure better than ever before. Computer software takes the place of actual hand movements and can make movements very precise.

The benefits of minimally invasive robotic surgery can include:
  • Small incisions
  • Less pain
  • Low risk of infection
  • Short hospital stay
  • Quick recovery time
  • Less scarring
  • Reduced blood loss
Some conditions treated at Johns Hopkins using robotic-assisted surgery include:
  • General – Pancreatic cancer, benign pancreatic lesions, liver tumors (benign and malignant), gallbladder cancer, severe gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), obesity (gastric bypass, bariatric surgery, gastric banding)
  • Lung – Some lung tumors, esophageal cancer and diseases
  • Gynecologic – Endometriosis, gynecologic cancers (ovarian/cervical cancer), heavy uterine bleeding, uterine fibroids, uterine prolapse, ovarian cysts, benign cervical disorders
  • Head and neck – Head and neck cancer (oropharyngeal cancer), thyroid cancer
  • Heart – Mitral valve prolapse and repair, atrial septal defect, atrial fibrillation
  • Urological conditions – Bladder cancer, kidney disorders (kidney stones, kidney cysts, kidney blockage), kidney cancer, kidney removal, prostate cancer, incontinence, vaginal prolapse

Not all minimally invasive procedures are completed with robot assistance, and not all medical cases are right for robotic-assisted surgery—some patients may benefit from endoscopic or open (traditional) surgery.

Non-robotic minimally invasive surgery (endoscopic)

Non-robotic minimally invasive surgery is also known as endoscopic surgery. You also may be familiar with terms like laparoscopic surgery, thoracoscopic surgery, or “keyhole” surgery. These are minimally invasive procedures that utilize an endoscope to reach internal organs through very small incisions.

During endoscopic surgery the surgeon inserts a thin, flexible tube with a video camera through a small incision or a natural orifice like the mouth or nostrils. The tube has a channel to utilize tiny surgical instruments, which the surgeon uses while viewing the organs on a computer monitor.

This technique allows the surgeon to see inside the patient’s body and operate through a much smaller incision than would otherwise be required of traditional open surgery.

The benefits of endoscopic surgical procedures can include: 
  • Small incisions, few incisions, or no incision
  • Less pain
  • Low risk of infection
  • Short hospital stay
  • Quick recovery time
  • Less scarring
  • Reduced blood loss
Some conditions treated at Johns Hopkins using non-robotic minimally invasive surgery include:
  • General – Pancreatic cancer, benign pancreatic lesions, hernias, severe gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), liver tumors (benign and malignant), gallbladder cancer, obesity (gastric bypass, bariatric surgery, gastric banding), gastrointestinal/rectal conditions,  hernias (paraesophageal, ventral, hiatal or incisional)
  • Lung – Some lung tumors, esophageal cancer and diseases
  • Gynecologic – Gynecologic cancer, benign tumors, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, benign cervical disorders, conditions requiring hysterectomy, removal of ovaries and staging of lymph nodes
  • Head and neck – Skull base brain tumors, anterior cranial fossa (front skull base) tumors, posterior cranial fossa (back of the skull base) tumors
  • Heart – Atrial septal defects, aortic regurgitation, aortic insufficiency, aortic stenosis, mitral valve repair
  • Neurosurgery/Spine – Spine conditions, cervical disc hernias, lumbar disc hernias, degenerative disc disease, spinal trauma: skull base brain tumors, anterior cranial fossa (front skull base) tumors, posterior cranial fossa (back of the skull base) tumors
  • Vascular – varicose veins, venous insufficiency, peripheral vascular disease
  • Urological – Kidney disorders, kidney cysts, kidney stones, kidney blockage, kidney donation, prostate cancer, incontinence, vaginal prolapse