New surgical techniques have resulted from breakthroughs in the technology of computers, robotic devices, telecommunications, and endoscopic instrumentation. These advances have allowed surgeons to perform many surgical procedures without having to make large, invasive incisions. Minimally invasive surgery usually reduces pain and time to recovery for the patient.
An example of such an advance is the option of removing a kidney (performing a nephrectomy) as a laparoscopic procedure. This surgical technique allows a surgeon to remove the kidney using several small, one-centimeter incisions and one larger one (about three centimeters) instead of a large incision in the flank.
Before choosing a minimally invasive approach, there are some questions you may want to ask.
Is your surgeon fellowship-trained in minimally invasive urologic surgery?
The body that oversees fellowship training in minimally invasive urology is the Society of Endourology. Most clinical fellowships last one-to-two years.
How many minimally invasive procedures has the surgeon performed? How many does he perform in a year?
Proficiency in laparoscopic urologic surgery is achieved and maintained with a minimum of 20 cases per year.
What percentage of his practice is devoted to performing laparoscopic procedures?
Most skilled laparoscopic urologic surgeons devote more than 15 percent of their time to performance of laparoscopic surgery.