What is Minimally Invasive Surgery?

You’re likely to have many concerns when one of our doctors at Bruce Carter United Orthopaedic and Spine Center recommends surgery to treat your injury or health condition. The word brings up images of pain and a long recovery period for many people. However, our department uses minimally invasive surgery whenever possible for the following:

  • Sports injuries
  • Selective foot and ankle injuries
  • Hand injuries and deformities
  • Upper extremities

These procedures treat more than two dozen specific conditions. Minimally invasive surgery is shorter, more comfortable, and requires much less time to devote to recovery. Additional benefits include fewer complications than open surgery, less bleeding, less scarring, and a lower or comparable cost to more complex surgery. Your doctor will let you know expectations for work and returning to normal activities during your initial consultation.

History of Minimally Invasive Surgery

In 1988, Dr. Barry McKernan removed a patient’s gallbladder after making an incision only 10 millimeters long and inserting a miniature camera called a laparoscope. It took the patient just days to recover from the gallbladder removal, a procedure that once required a major surgery and weeks of recovery. The laparoscopic cholecystectomy that took place nearly three decades ago was the first minimally invasive surgery in the United States and the birth of a movement. Since then, 20 million people have had laparoscopic or another type of minimally invasive surgery to treat a wide range of health issues.

Procedures Involved in Minimally Invasive Surgery

When you arrive at the center, a nurse will take your vital statistics and ask you to change into a hospital gown to prepare for surgery. He or she will bring you to the operating area and will make sure that you feel comfortable before administering anesthesia or calling another doctor or nurse to do so. This ensures that you remain asleep and do not experience pain while your surgeon completes the brief operation. We monitor your heart rate and oxygen level continually throughout the procedure.

When it’s time to start the surgery, your doctor makes a small incision less than half an inch long. This allows room to introduce a harmless gas into your body that provides an expanded area for he or she to work. The next step is to insert a tiny rod with a light and camera attached to it. The light makes it easier for the surgeon to see the area while the camera enlarges it several times and transmits the image to a television screen. This provides maximum precision and range of view.

After making two or three additional incisions, your doctor inserts the long and thin surgical instruments needed to perform the surgery. He or she then sutures the area with dissolvable stitches. Your nurse monitors you as you start to come out of anesthesia until you are stable enough to go home. A responsible adult must accompany and drive you home once we have given you the okay to leave.

Recovery from Minimally Invasive Surgery

While you might feel immediate pain relief after surgery, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions for recovery. Trying to become fully active and mobile again too soon could re-injure the area where you had surgery in the first place. Depending on the severity of your injury or health condition, recovery could take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. You should take all medication as directed during this time.

We have five surgeons on staff, all of whom perform surgery in different specialty areas. You can feel confident that each one has successfully completed hundreds of previous procedures for the same type of issue that you are experiencing. We provide you with detailed information about minimally invasive surgery at your consultation. You may also contact us with questions at any time.

Please note, the information provided throughout this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and video, on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. If you are experiencing related symptoms, please visit your doctor or call 9-1-1 in an emergency.