No surgery is routine if it’s happening to you.
When you first find out you need surgery, it’s natural to feel a bit anxious. But, the more you know, the more relaxed you’ll feel about what’s in store. Keep in mind that Swedish does more than 32,000 surgical procedures a year, so while it’s not an everyday occurrence for you, it most assuredly is for your surgeon, nurses, and the other members of your care team
What’s minimally invasive surgery?
For hundreds of years, most surgery was done with a large incision so the surgeon could access the parts of your body that needed attention. These “open” surgeries are still performed in some cases — such as open-heart surgery — but the vast majority of procedures today use one of these minimally invasive techniques: laparoscopy or robotic laparoscopy. In fact, a growing number of cardiac procedures — including those that used to require open-heart surgery — are now being done with a minimally invasive approach.
How laparoscopic surgery works.
With a laparoscopy the surgeon makes two or three tiny incisions — each usually less than an inch long. In one, the doctor inserts the laparoscope, a lens with an intense light source that attaches to a video camera outside the patient’s body. Small tubes, known as trochars, are inserted into the other incisions. A wide variety of surgical tools for cutting, cauterizing, and suturing can be inserted in these “ports,” where they are manipulated by the surgeon who observes the surgical site on a large monitor. The advantages of laparoscopic surgery over open surgery include less pain due to the smaller incisions, a reduced chance of infection, and faster recovery time.
How is robotic surgery different?
The da Vinci robotic surgical system works in much the same way as a traditional laparoscopic procedure. There are the same small incisions, and the camera lens with its light source and instruments are inserted into your body via small tubes or trochars.
However, instead of the surgeon directly manipulating the laparoscopic instruments, he or she sits at a console and views a magnified 3-D image of the surgical site. Controls on the console let the surgeon move the instruments inside your body, but with even more precision, stability, and dexterity than holding the instruments in their hands would allow.
In fact, instruments can be rotated up to 540 degrees — something definitely not possible with a human wrist. The surgeon’s console also provides a magnified 3D view of the surgical site, unlike the flat screens used in laparoscopic procedures, which offer a two-dimensional view.
Robotic surgery makes the most sense when the body parts that need treatment are difficult to access or when very precise control is needed, such as for prostate surgery.
What does “inpatient” and “outpatient” surgery mean?
If your doctor tells you you’ll be having inpatient surgery that means you’ll be spending the night in the hospital after your procedure. If you hear the term “outpatient” or “same-day” surgery, then you’ll most likely go home the same day after you’ve recovered from your operation.
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