Minimally invasive surgical procedures have revolutionized surgery and have brought about great advantages, including faster recovery. In Italy, however, there is still much to be done to make minimally invasive surgery a standard form of surgery.
Benefits of Minimally Invasive Procedures
The term “invasive procedure” refers to the methods used in surgery. Instead of the conventional incisions made, minimally invasive surgery entails smaller incisions (about 2-3cm) into which probes are inserted to perform the surgery. Surgery is, thus, less traumatic and often allows for outpatient surgery.
The Italian Society of Cardiology (SIC) and the Italian Association of Hospital Surgeons (ACOI) have continually confirmed the benefits of minimally invasive surgery for patients:
Faster recovery times and shorter hospital stays
Less traumatic surgical wounds
Less postoperative pain compared to traditional techniques
Less risk of complications due to a decreased percentage of intraoperative risks due to imaging techniques
Minimally invasive surgery has also proved to be more cost-effective for the National Health System. Even though these techniques are expensive, shorter hospital stays have greatly reduced long-term costs for the National Health System.
Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery and Recovery Time
Minimally invasive heart surgery requires the use of operating rooms specially equipped with modern, technological machines that allow small sterile cameras to be inserted into the patient, producing and internal view of the patient’s chest on the monitor.
Minimally invasive surgical procedures for heart surgery involve:
Coronary artery disease
Valvular heart disease
Mitral valve disease
Tricuspid valve disease
Aorta-coronary bypass surgery
The Inspiring Example of Monaldi
For the fourth year in a row, having performed 560 operations since 2011, the year minimally invasive surgery was introduced, and 160 operations in 2017 alone, Monaldi Hospital in Naples comes first place in Italy for minimally invasive operations with video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) on lung cancer patients.
These surgeries can now be performed without opening the chest or cutting or moving the ribs. Thoracoscopic surgery is done by making three small incisions, or ports, through which surgical instruments are inserted. Eliminating open chest surgery obviously has enormous post-operative benefits for the patient, not to mention the decreased risk of hemorrhaging during the surgery. Furthermore, shorter hospital stays have saved the hospital 2 million euros since 2011.
“Colon cancer and rectal cancer are currently the most widespread forms of cancer”, says Pierluigi Marini, president of ACOI. “Today we can perform laparoscopic surgery (ed. minimally invasive surgical procedures) which guarantee patients better results, shorter hospital stays and faster recoveries”.
For this reason, SIC and ACOI have developed the Op2IMISE project, to put standardized methods into place across Italy for surgeons performing laparascopic colorectal surgery. “A Clinical Advisory Board, made up of 16 surgeons specialized in the use of minimally invasive techniques, has been formed in order to develop highly-specialized training programs.”
The objective of the project is to standardize minimally invasive surgery given the important benefits it offers patients by significantly reducing pain, complications, hospital stays and recovery time.
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