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Minimally invasive surgery


In minimally invasive surgery, surgeons use various ways to operate with less damage to the body than with open surgery. In general, minimally invasive surgery is linked to less pain, a shorter hospital stay and fewer complications. Laparoscopy is surgery done through one or more small cuts, called incisions, using small tubes and tiny cameras and surgical tools.

Laparoscopy was one of the first types of minimally invasive surgery. Another type of minimally invasive surgery is robotic surgery. It gives an enlarged, 3D view of the surgical site and helps the surgeon operate with precision and control.

Ongoing progress in minimally invasive surgery makes it a good option for people with a wide range of conditions. If you need surgery and think you may be able to have this approach, talk with your surgeon.

Types of minimally invasive surgery

Surgeons perform many minimally invasive surgeries on different parts of the body, including:

  • Adrenalectomy, to remove one or both adrenal glands.
  • Brain surgery.
  • Colectomy, to remove unhealthy parts of a colon.
  • Gallbladder surgery, also called cholecystectomy, to relieve pain caused by gallstones.
  • Heart surgery.
  • Hiatal hernia repair, sometimes called anti-reflux surgery, to relieve gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • Kidney removal, also called nephrectomy.
  • Kidney transplant.
  • Spine surgery.
  • Splenectomy, to remove the spleen.

Minimally invasive surgery can also be used for more general surgeries, including the following:

  • Cancer surgery, for example, to destroy a tumor.
  • Colon and rectal surgery.
  • Endovascular surgery, to treat or repair an aneurysm.
  • Gastroenterologic surgery, including for gastric bypass.
  • Gynecologic surgery.
  • Neurosurgery.
  • Orthopedic surgery.
  • Otolaryngology (ENT)/Head and Neck Surgery.
  • Thoracic surgery, such as video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS), to diagnose and treat conditions in the chest.
  • Urologic surgery.

Why it's done

Minimally invasive surgery came about in the 1980s as a safe way to meet the surgical needs of many people. In the last 20 years, many surgeons have come to prefer it to open, also called traditional, surgery. Open surgery most often needs larger cuts and a longer hospital stay.

Since then, the use of minimally invasive surgery has spread widely in many surgical areas, including colon surgery and lung surgery. Talk with your surgeon about whether minimally invasive surgery would be a good choice for you.


Minimally invasive surgery uses smaller surgical cuts, and most often is less risky than open surgery. But even with minimally invasive surgery, there are risks of complications with medicines that put you in a sleep-like state during surgery, bleeding and infection.

Content Last Updated: 23-Sep-2023
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