Cutting down on surgical scars

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
August 12, 2008 7:07:38 AM PDT
Doctors are now experimenting with surgeries that use the body's natural openings, and there is no need for any external cuts. The last big surgical advance was in the early 80's, when laparascopic surgery was popularized. That one is often referred to as keyhole surgery where doctors make small round incisions to allow instruments to enter. Now there's a whole new method being tried.

When Awilda Sanchez was told she needed to have her gallbladder removed, she like many other young people worried about having scars on her abdomen.

"To tell you the truth I was concerned I would have a whole bunch of scars on my stomach, and I didn't want that," said Sanchez.

Awilda is a respiratory therapist at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center so she was referred to Dr. Marc Bessler there, a surgeon doing a clinical research trial on a new type of surgery.

Awilda is one of the few people in the world to have had this type of surgery.

The gallbladder was removed through one of the body's natural openings.

"We go through the vagina. We go behind the uterus and that muscle doesn't sense pain the same way as the abdominal wall does," said Dr. Bessler.

Going in through two small incisions in the back of the uterus allow the doctors to use scopes to see and cut the gallbladder, and then to , pull it out through the uterus and vagina.

There are no cuts on the abdomen or abdominal muscle.

Dr. Bessler is hopeful the study will confirm the effectiveness of the surgery.

"So it's scar free. Hopefully we can improve the point of pain. Hopefully we can improve the point of recovery without putting patients at risk by making holes in their stomachs," adds Dr. Bessler.

Obesity patients are also now being treated in studies using the body's natural openings.

In July, doctors in St. Louis performed a stomach stapling procedure by going into the stomach through the patients mouth. Again, no holes or cuts.

Obesity patients there will also be able to be part of a national study, according to Dr. Bessler. "We just enrolled our first two patients into that study. We haven't done the procedure yet, but it's scheduled for end of the month," he said.

The appendix can also be removed through the vagina and biopsies on some internal organs can also be done. Obviously, its not a procedure that can be done on men, but doctors hope to progress to the point of using other natural opening to offer the procedure to men. Doctors hope to offer the procedure transrectally or transorally for men.

STORY BY: Eyewitness News' Dr. Jay Adlersberg

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