Kids MD - Minimally Invasive Surgery - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/10/04

Kids MD - Minimally Invasive Surgery

Eighteen-year-old Katie Miller is having her spleen removed. Thirteen-year-old Matt Jones just had his appendix taken out. In both cases, doctors use a method called minimally-invasive surgery.

"Rather than the patient having a large incision across their abdomen, you end up with just maybe three or four holes," says Mark Wulkan, M.D., the Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Through one tiny incision, doctors insert a camera and lights, the other incisions are for the surgical instruments.

"Previously for what we call laparotomy, which is a large incision in the abdomen, a child would have to stay in the hospital for four or five days at times, just because of the incision. Now kids will go home the same day or the next day," says Dr. Wulkan.

Experts say several procedures now can be done with minimally invasive techniques, including gall bladder removal, bowel surgery, and biopsies of the heart and lungs.

And without the large incision, the child is left with very little scarring.

"In a typical appendectomy, you would have a scar right here," says Dr. Kathleen Nelson, pointing to Matt's midsection where now there are only three small holes.

But experts say even when minimally-invasive techniques could be used, some surgeons may not offer it. So parents should do their own research and get a second opinion.

"I think when they're watching out for their child they have to think about what the other options are, and in those cases I think it's reasonable to seek out somebody who may have more experience with minimally-invasive surgery or feel more comfortable with minimally-invasive surgery because those people are out there," says Dr. Wulkan.
 

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