What Is A ‘Minimally Invasive Procedure’?

When it comes to surgical interventions performed on internal organs, joints or blood vessels, the treatment options include both conventional and so-called minimally invasive procedures. While both types of interventions are forms of surgery, conventional surgical treatments and minimally invasive options are different in many ways. Here are some features of minimally invasive interventions that you should know about before choosing the option.

The Most Important Differences between Conventional Surgery and Minimally Invasive Procedures

Minimally invasive procedures, as the name suggests, are interventions that involve surgical incisions that are much smaller than the incisions involved with conventional surgical interventions. Minimally invasive procedures also take shorter to perform than conventional surgery, which also means that the modern version of the intervention is much less demanding on the patient’s body. The incisions being smaller, the recovery time that follows minimally invasive solutions is usually much shorter than in the case of conventional surgery – while minimally invasive procedures usually require only a couple of days of hospital treatment or can be performed as outpatient treatment, the conventional surgeries used for treating the same conditions might involve weeks of hospital treatment and months of recovery. The recovery period with minimally invasive procedures is also easier and less painful for the patient.

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Some Examples of Minimally Invasive Surgical Interventions

Modern medical technology today allows for performing minimally invasive interventions to treat a very wide range of conditions. According to vascular specialists near me, here are some examples:

  • Arthroscopic surgery – these interventions are performed with the help of a thin fiber optic video camera through a tiny incision into the joint to be treated with the purpose of examining, diagnosing or even treating the joint;
  • Bronchoscopy – these interventions also involve the insertion of a camera, but this time into the lungs to diagnose lung disease, blockages or to take samples of lung tissue or fluid;
  • Endoscopy – the same method, used to diagnose and examine the digestive tract;
  • Laparoscopy – the method is used for a variety of illnesses that used to be treated with open surgery, such as hysterectomy. The method involves the inserting of a tube with a light and a camera that sends images to a monitor. The camera and various additional tools are used together not only for diagnostic purposes, but also for surgical interventions, such as the removal of a tumor or of an organ, such as uterine fibroids or appendices.

The Benefits of Minimally Invasive Procedures

Besides shorter recovery and shorter intervention duration, minimally invasive procedures have lots of other benefits as well:

  • The interventions do not require deep cuts through muscles and other types of tissue; therefore, they are less traumatic for the patient;
  • Less scarring – many of these procedures involve very small incisions or holes that heal almost completely;
  • Safety – these methods reduce the risk of infections and complications to the minimum and blood loss is also minimal. These qualities also make minimally invasive interventions suitable for patients who are not suitable candidates for conventional interventions due to some underlying physical condition.

What Are New Treatments for Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are growths on the uterus that are not related to cancer. Fibroids range in size from the very small, invisible to the human eye, to large, capable of distorting the uterus. They are not associated with the risk of cervical cancer. However, they may negatively impact fertility and pregnancy; therefore they should not be left untreated.

Who Is More Likely to Develop Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids have several causes and risk factors. Starting with the risk factors, these are:

  • Race – Black women are more likely to develop uterine fibroids than any other races
  • Heredity – women whose mothers and sisters suffer from uterine fibroids are predisposed to develop this condition, as well
  • Early onset of menstruation
  • Vitamin D deficiency.

As for the causes of uterine fibroids outside these risk factors, doctors believe that genetics and hormones play a key role. They noticed that fibroids tend to shrink after menopause, thus, the lower level of estrogen and progesterone are linked to their involution.

Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids

Women who have uterine fibroids usually experience heavy and painful menstruations, as well as menstrual periods that last more than 7 days. Other frequent symptoms are:

  • Pelvic pain or pressure
  • Frequent urination
  • Inability to empty the bladder completely
  • Backache
  • Constipation.

treatment for uterine fibroids

Types of Treatments of Uterine Fibroids

Traditionally, uterine fibroids were treated with a combination of hormone-based oral medication, including contraceptives. In some cases, an intrauterine device would be inserted to release progestin locally. However, hormonal drugs have many negative side effects, such as hot flashes and reduced bone density. Moreover, some of these drugs treat the symptoms, but do not reduce the size of the uterine fibroids.

In other cases, the patients received nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which relieve pain, but do not reduce the menstrual blood flow.

Fortunately, new and modern treatment for uterine fibroids exists. Their aim is to eliminate uterine fibroids, not just provide relief for the symptoms. They are categorized in two types:

  1. Non-invasive Procedure

The non-invasive procedure for eliminating uterine fibroids is the MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgery. While the patient is placed inside a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner, the doctor uses an ultrasound transducer, focusing the sound waves directly towards the fibroids. The transducer generates heat that destroys the fibroid tissue.

  1. Minimally Invasive Procedures

The MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgery is a very new technique, and not many doctors master it. However, you will find many healthcare facilities offering effective and well-known minimally invasive procedures, such as:

Uterine artery embolization – small particles are injected into the arteries supplying blood to the uterus. They cut off blood flow to the fibroids and they will shrink and die.

Radiofrequency ablation – this procedure requires laparoscopic surgery (a very small incision). The doctor will use a specialized device to insert several tiny needles into the fibroid. These needles will heat up the fibroid and destroy it.

Endometrial ablation – the doctor introduces a specialized instrument into the uterus which emits heat, microwave energy or electric current (at safe levels for the patient) to destroy the lining of the uterus. This procedure will effectively cancel any possibility of getting pregnant, thus it is recommended only in extreme cases.