Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008

Appendectomy: No Cuts, No Scars, No Sweat

Get ready for the "natural orifice" technique. Settle down, it's a surgical procedure. Rather than cutting through skin and tissue to reach organs deep inside the body, surgeons are increasingly experimenting with going through natural openings such as the mouth, vagina and colon. A team at the University of California at San Diego performed the first such operation in the U.S. in March, removing the appendix of a brave graduate student through her vagina. Surgeons say the technique, which uses in-body camera systems to guide doctors, will reduce the number of incisions made through the skin, which in turn should reduce scarring and infections and improve recovery. Depending on the type of surgery, doctors may need to make some incisions through inner tissues and organs, but because those cuts are not exposed, they often heal faster and more cleanly than those made through the skin. And as a bonus, they tend to be less painful as they heal.