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Surgeons Remove Gallbladder Through Vagina
Date:9/17/2007

th no postoperative pain and no scars," the authors wrote. Although the woman could have left the hospital the same day, the doctors kept her hospitalized two days after the operation, because this was their first such surgery.

When the doctors saw the woman 10 days later, she was back to normal and had no bleeding, discharge or discomfort, according to the report.

"It is exciting to contemplate the potential for natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery in improving patient care," the researchers wrote. "A surgical intervention that eradicates the need for any incision, avoiding bodily trauma, is attractive to patients and also has an aura that surgeons find hard to resist."

But Ren thinks the basic premise of this type of surgery -- called natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery -- is misguided. "I admire the surgeons for their innovation and forward-thinking. However, the basic philosophy is backwards," she said.

One of the basic principles of surgery is to avoid injury to internal organs, because, even if they are repaired, there still is an inherent risk of the repair tearing apart, Ren said. "If this happens, serious infection can occur which occasionally is fatal. In this paper, the vaginal wall is purposely injured and therefore opens the possibility for more serious complications," she said.

The standard way of removing a gallbladder -- laparoscopically -- is safer than doing it through an open cut, Ren said. The advantage that natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery provides -- which the French researchers call "scarless" and "less painful" -- is negligible when compared to the scars and pain that patients experience after non-laparoscopically performed surgeries, she said.

In addition, the operation through the vagina takes three to four times longer than it takes to perform laparoscopically, increasing the risk to patients who need more anesthesia, Ren noted.

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