February 26, 2009

Gallbladder removal via vagina new option

Natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery -- removing an organ via the vagina or mouth -- may replace gallbladder surgery, U.S. researchers said.

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, Dr. Eric Hungness said in a statement.

Natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery 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.

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, Hungness said.

Currently, laparoscopic assistance is used as a small camera is also inserted through an incision made in the patient's belly button to help guide surgeons. The organ is then surgically resected and taken out the vagina, Hungness added.