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St. Mary Surgeon Now Performing Single-incision Laparoscopic Surgery
St. Mary Surgeon Now Performing Single-incision Laparoscopic Surgery New technique benefits patients by having only one port of access.

LANGHORNE, Pa., August 31, 2009 – Surgeon Eric D. Edwards, MD, uses an advanced form of laparoscopic surgery when he operates at St. Mary Medical Center. This new technique, Single-incision Laparoscopic Surgery (SILSTM), allows surgeons to make one half-inch cut through which to perform a surgical procedure. The incision is hidden in the belly button, making the procedure virtually “scarless.” An access port is placed within this surgical entryway to hold the specially designed cameras and instruments used during the minimally invasive procedure.

Laparoscopic surgery is considered a medical advantage over open procedures that result in longer scars, more substantial post-surgical pain, and longer hospital stays. Traditional laparoscopic surgery requires multiple ports of access (usually three to four) to allow for optimal placement of instruments. Although scarring is much smaller in laparoscopic surgery versus open surgery, the three to four puncture sites in traditional laparoscopic surgery each provide the potential for infection, pain and hernia formation.

While laparoscopy traditionally offers better patient outcomes, including less pain and improved cosmetic result, the use of a single incision for SILS™ procedures has the potential to dramatically extend the benefits of laparoscopy. The procedure can reduce the wound pain that may accompany multiple sites of entry, and patients report less scarring, and in many cases, no visible scar at all. Most patients go home the same day of their surgery.

Currently SILS™ is most commonly used for gallbladder removal (cholecystectomy), which in nearly 90 percent of cases is performed using laparoscopic techniques. Similar to traditional laparoscopic procedures, the SILS™ technique could potentially be used for other common gastrointestinal surgeries, such as appendectomies, some colon or weight-loss surgeries, and hernia repair.

Surgeons insert specialized tools that have been developed for single-incision surgery through the half-inch belly button incision. These tools include a camera and flexible instruments cut and suture allowing the surgeon a precise and versatile range of motion within the abdomen.

While the physician determines the best surgical procedure based on each patient’s medical needs, patients may not be considered candidates for the SILS™ or laparoscopic procedures if a gallbladder or organ is badly inflamed or infected, if they have had prior umbilical or abdominal surgery, or if they require emergency treatment.

“Single-incision surgery is certainly more difficult than a regular operation because there’s a learning curve for the instrumentation and the camera,” says Dr. Edwards, who received special training in using the SILS™ technique. “This is an evolving technology that is showing great promise for patients who are candidates for minimally invasive surgery,” he continues. “With one incision, there is less chance of infection and less scarring. This means a better cosmetic result and faster recovery.”