Loyola surgeon uses minimally invasive procedure to operate inside the abdomen with no traces of a scar
MAYWOOD, Ill. -- When Julie Kopec heard her gallbladder had to be surgically removed, she was more astonished with how it was to be done than that it needed to be done.
"None of my friends had ever heard of using an incision through the belly button to remove a gallbladder. They had the conventional surgery with three and four incisions," said Kopec, a resident of Oak Forest, Ill. "My feelings were, 'It wasn't the most direct route,' but then, what did I know?"
Kopec's surgery was performed by Dr. P. Marco Fisichella, assistant professor of surgery, division of general surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood. He removed Kopec's gallbladder, an organ about the size of a lemon, through a single incision in her belly button that left her with no visible traces of a scar.
"The new frontier in laparoscopic surgery is no-scar surgery." said Fisichella in discussing the minimally invasive procedure that is still relatively rare.
Called single-incision laparoscopic surgery (SILS), the procedure Fisichella uses to remove the gallbladder, which is located behind the liver on the right side of the rib cage, is an improved form of laparoscopic surgery, which traditionally requires four incisions to allow room for a camera and various instruments.
"The instruments we use are specially designed for this type of procedure," said Fisichella, who is also director of Loyola's Swallowing Center, a multi-disciplinary specialty clinic that diagnoses and treats disorders of the esophagus. "Surgeons are starting to use this novel technique to do other types of procedures -- surgery on the stomach, surgery on the colon and obesity surgery."
Recovery from a SILS procedure, which on average takes less than an hour to complete, comes with a lower risk of infection because there is only one scar, which is completely hidden in the belly button. For the same reason, the need for pain medication is lessened, and in most cases, patients are able to more quickly resume their normal activities.
"I had it done on a Tuesday and I went shopping on Friday," Kopec said. "I wasn't surprised at how quickly I recovered. The way I was feeling after my surgery I thought I could have been out shopping Wednesday."
Patients who undergo a SILS procedure are usually in and out of the hospital on the same day.
"I was in, in the morning, and out by afternoon," Kopec said.
As the weather warms, a SILS procedure has a cosmetic dimension that gives it an added advantage to patients.
"It's perfect for the long-awaited bikini season," Fisichella said. "It's a patient-driven operation. You can do this surgery conventionally but why would you that when you can achieve the same results with only one incision and the same degree of safety?"