Recently, surgeons with Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia performed laparoscopic gallbladder removal through a single incision in the belly button. They call their procedure single port access (SPA) surgery. Surgeon, Paul Curcillo, II, M.D., says traditional laparoscopic instruments are straight and stiff, which means they must be placed at certain locations in the abdomen to reach and manipulate the gallbladder and bile duct connections.
Now, there’s a new set of laparoscopic instruments, called RealHand™, that have bendable ends. The bending instruments mimic the actions of the wrist and fingers, giving the surgeon much greater dexterity inside the abdomen. In the single port access surgery, Curcillo makes one incision into the belly button. Three tubes are inserted into the incision. A RealHand instrument is inserted into each tube and a camera is placed in the middle.
Once inside, the camera provides the view. The surgeon can bend and manipulate the surgical instruments, just like using his own hands. Once the gallbladder is removed, the surgical tools are withdrawn and the incision is closed with surgical glue.
Curcillo says since the single incision is made in the belly button, there is no visible scar. He says patients still have some pain, but the pain is limited to one site (as opposed to several sites with traditional laparoscopic surgery). The technique may also be used for other types of abdominal surgery, such as ovary removal, hernia repair, appendectomy, colon repair, and even a hysterectomy.