General, Minimally-Invasive and Laparoscopic 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.

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.

Surgeons at Swedish are expert at both traditional and minimally invasive surgical procedures, and will perform the type best suited to each particular patient and case.

Examples of general surgery include: