December 23, 2008

Single-port surgeries gaining popularity

Surgical techniques using a small, single point of entry, such as a navel, means far less pain and scarring, and far faster recovery, U.S. doctors say.

The technique is not yet mainstream, but gaining acceptance by doctors nationwide, including a few in Houston, the Houston Chronicle reported Tuesday. This technique, single-port access, or SPA, is an evolution of the minimally invasive surgery known as laparoscopy.

I think this is the wave of the future, said Dr. Tung Shu, who used the procedure to remove a kidney in January, becoming the first urological surgeon in Houston to use the technique.

The procedure was introduced in 2007. Unlike laparoscopic surgery, which inserts instruments in several small incisions in the abdomen, single-port procedures use the same instruments but all are inserted through one incision.

Physicians said the common single-port procedures include gallbladder, appendix, weight-loss surgery, and ovary and uterus removal or repair. Doctors said they think the new approach can reduce pain and recovery time because there's less trauma and risk of infection with fewer incisions.