Breakthrough Gallbladder Removal: February 15, 2012

More than a quarter million Americans will have their gallbladder removed this year, often as a consequence of gallstones, which cause intense pain. One of the biggest breakthroughs in surgery was the development of laparoscopic techniques.

“What we’ve discovered with these procedures is not only recovery time quicker but many times complication rates can be lower. When we began to do it laparoscopically, these were literally done on an outpatient basis they would come in and have it done go home the same night,” says Dr. Larry Antonucci, Chief Operating Officer for Lee Memorial Health System.

Now in the age of minimally invasive surgery, doctors are adapting their procedures to operate with even less trauma to the body. Dr. Darren Miter is using a next generation procedure for gallbladder removal.

“Where the gallbladder, rather than being removed laparoscopically with three or four incisions could be removed with just one single incision that we bury in the belly button,” says Dr. Miter, a laparoscopic surgeon with Lee Memorial Health System.

It’s called single incision laparoscopic surgery or SILS. SILS uses a small incision and removes the gallbladder through the belly button. The advanced technique is a more challenging procedure.

“It does require a slightly thinner abdominal wall to be able to get certain instruments through that can manipulate the gallbladder,” says Dr. Miter.

With only one cut, SILS is not only less invasive going in, but leaves behind almost no visible scar.

“I usually offer that procedure to younger, healthier patients who are less likely to want scars,” says Dr. Miter.

While the typical laparoscopic procedure requires as many as four incisions, the SILS procedure leaves patients with one well-hidden scar tucked in the belly button.