In a breakthrough surgery, physicians at Northwestern Memorial Hospital Have for the first time removed a patient's gallbladder through the vagina using a minimally invasive technique called NOTES-natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery.
The path-breaking surgery has made the doctors the first in the Midwest and the third in the country to perform the innovative procedure.
NOTES is gaining popularity and has been characterized by many in the medical profession as laying the groundwork for truly "incisionless" surgery.
To carry out the procedure, surgeons use the vagina or mouth in patients to remove organs such as the gallbladder, kidney and appendix.
When the gallbladder is removed through the vagina, a thin, flexible snake-like device, called an endoscope, is inserted through a small incision in the vaginal wall and into the abdomen.
These days the physicians also use laparoscopic assistance, as a small camera is inserted through an incision made in the patient's belly button to help guide surgeons. Then the organ is surgically resected and taken out the vagina.
"Millions of women in the United States suffer from gallbladder disease, and many of those women will eventually have to undergo a surgical procedure to remove the organ, which is often painful and can have a lengthy recovery time," said Eric Hungness, MD, a minimally invasive gastrointestinal surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital who led the team who performed the surgery.
He added: "NOTES reduces the number of and may eliminate the need for abdominal incisions compared with traditional laparoscopic surgery, and may reduce pain and shorten recovery time for patients. This technique may also eliminate the risk of post-operative wound infections or hernias."