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New surgical technique that results in less pain, quicker recovery

May 27, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Surgery through your belly button? Just think of the advantages: no physical scars and only one incision. But is it practical?One local surgeon says it's the way abdominal surgeries should be done.

A colonoscopy revealed a large non-cancerous polyp, but Aida Iranosian needed six inches of her colon removed. The standard operation would mean four days in the hospital and up to a month to recover. Instead she opted for single incision laparoscopic surgery (SILS).

"I have a full time job [and] three kids so I want to recover faster than any other way," she said.

Dr. Sam Carvajal, a surgeon at Glendale Adventist Medical Center, has performed 900 single incision laparoscopic surgeries. Instead of two or three incisions, he does just one.

"We can do all forms of laparoscopic surgery through single incision laparoscopic surgery, including hernias where we're working on the muscles in those particular situations or over in the stomach where we're removing parts of it or, as in today, when we removed a part of a colon," said Dr. Carvajal.

Dr. Carvajal makes just one incision in the belly button. He then inserts the SILS port, which gives him the ability to snake in various tools at the same time. The wires cross and bend, allowing the surgeon to maneuver through a patient's abdomen.

"We can also remove the appendix, gall bladder and parts of the small bowel. We can treat tumors inside the liver," said Dr. Carvajal.

The day after her surgery, Iranosian went home and she expects to return to work in about a week. Plus, she doesn't even have a scar.

"Patients truly do remarkably better and they have less pain and are able to go back to work sooner," said Dr. Carvajal. "We've done this on a lot of lawyers and doctors who go back to work in a day or two."

He says SILS is also a great option for elderly or other patients not healthy enough to undergo conventional surgery.

Dr. Carvajal says most patients don't take more than an over-the-counter pain reliever during recovery. The risk of infection is the same as any other laparoscopic surgery.

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