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Gallbladder Removal Through Vagina Offers Minimally Invasive Alternative
Date:2/25/2009

Physicians at Northwestern Memorial are among the first groups in the U.S. to successfully complete vaginal natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery or NOTES

CHICAGO, Feb. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Physicians at Northwestern Memorial Hospital successfully removed a patient's gallbladder through the vagina, making them the first in the Midwest and the third in the country to perform the innovative procedure. The technique, known as NOTES -- natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery -- is gaining in popularity and has been characterized by many in the medical profession as laying the groundwork for truly "incisionless" surgery.

In NOTES cases, surgeons use the vagina or mouth in patients to remove organs such as the gallbladder, kidney and appendix. When the gallbladder is removed through the vagina, a thin, flexible snake-like device, called an endoscope, is inserted through a small incision in the vaginal wall and into the abdomen. Currently, laparoscopic assistance is used as a small camera is also inserted through an incision made in the patient's belly button to help guide surgeons. The organ is then surgically resected and taken out the vagina.

"Millions of women in the United States suffer from gallbladder disease, and many of those women will eventually have to undergo a surgical procedure to remove the organ, which is often painful and can have a lengthy recovery time," said Eric Hungness, MD, a minimally invasive gastrointestinal surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital who led the team who performed the surgery. "NOTES reduces the number of and may eliminate the need for abdominal incisions compared with traditional laparoscopic surgery, and may reduce pain and shorten recovery time for patients. This technique may also eliminate the risk of post-operative wound infections or hernias."

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SOURCE Northwestern Memorial Hospital
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