Laparoscopic surgeries—
faster recoveries and smaller incisions


Just when you think there’s nothing new under the sun, someone comes up with a new twist to an old idea.

Laparoscopic surgery, performed through a small opening rather than through the traditional long incision, is helping reduce complications and recovery time following a variety of surgeries. Health Science Center surgeons led by Jay S. Stauffer, MD, assistant professor, are the only Texas participants in a three-year, multicenter National Cancer Institute trial. The trial offers some patients with cancer of the colon, or large intestine, who need surgical removal of a portion of their colon, laparoscopic surgery instead of traditional open surgery.

Instead of through the normal incision, the laparoscopic technique is performed through small openings in the abdomen with the assistance of a camera inserted into the abdomen. Patients have been shown to make faster recoveries following this type of surgery, as demonstrated in gallbladder operations.

"Surgeons have to learn how to perform the surgery and the procedure takes about an hour longer than traditional surgery, but patients tend to go home sooner and have faster recoveries," Dr. Stauffer said.

Dr. Stauffer heads the university’s Center for Minimally Invasive Surgical Technology (CMIST) and with grant support from the San Antonio Area Foundation, is studying the laparoscopic technique for use in hernia repairs, splenectomies and surgeries on other areas of the body including the chest cavity. He has just received a grant from the American Cancer Society to study the feasibility of laparoscopic esophageal resection (excision).

"If we can show the effectiveness and lack of complications, this may be the future method for many surgeries," he said. Dr. Stauffer and other Health Science Center surgeons perform the operations primarily at University Hospital and the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital, a component of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System.

He and his colleagues soon will be offering courses in advanced laparoscopic techniques through the university and CMIST.


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