Doctors carry out first "no-scar surgery" to remove gallbladder

  1. Doctors carry out first "no-scar surgery" to remove gallbladder

    Thu Apr 26, 10:40 AM

    PARIS (AFP) - Doctors in eastern France said Thursday they had carried out the world's first "no-scar" surgery, using hi-tech instruments to remove the gallbladder of a 30-year-old patient via her vagina.

    The operation breaks new ground in minimally invasive surgery, a technique designed to boost post-operative recovery and avoid the emotional impact of scars, lead doctor Jacques Marescaux told AFP.

    His team used a long, flexible tube, called an endoscope, that was equipped with a tiny video camera and minute instruments for snipping tissue and clipping blood vessels.

    The endoscope, guided by the surgeons via a computer screen, was introduced into the abdominal cavity through an incision in the vaginal wall.

    The only "invasion" to the abdomen was a 2mm needle, also equipped with a camera, which provided a second view of the operation and also pumped a harmless gas to inflate the abdominal cavity and thus create a space for the endoscope head to work.

    The surgery, carried out at Strasbourg University Hospitals on April 2, was baptised "Operation Anubis," a god in Egyptian mythology. Anubis restored life through mummification, using long, flexible instruments.

    The operation is the culmination of a three-year, 7.2-million-euro (9.5-million-dollar) research project, Marescaux said.

    The patient, who had been suffering from gallstones, experienced no pain after the surgery but was kept in hospital for two days as a precaution.

    US surgeons at New York's Columbia University last month cleared a key technical hurdle by carrying out gallbladder removal by inserting instruments vaginally and through the abdomen.

    This was a major step forward compared with conventional surgery, although still not without post-operative risk, as abdominal incisions can lead to infection and hernia, said Marescaux.