NEW YORK – The next big advance in gynecologic minimally invasive surgery could be the wider adoption of minilaparoscopy using newer, frictionless instruments.
Minilaparoscopy is commonly used in cholecystectomy, but is making inroads in gynecology. Minilaparoscopy performed with the newer, smaller instruments is especially well suited for fertility procedures and endometriosis surgery, according to Dr. Gustavo Carvalho, a pioneer in minilaparoscopy. Gynecologists are using minilaparoscopy successfully in hysterectomy as well, but the mini-instruments are not strong enough to survive many hysterectomies, he added.
“Traditional laparoscopy is suited for brutal procedures, such as hysterectomy, but minilap is better for delicate procedures requiring precise, tiny instruments,” Dr. Carvalho said at the meeting.
Despite the promise of utilizing the newer instruments, many surgeons have misconceptions about them.
“This is partly related to instruments used in older procedures called minilap. But after they try it with these newer instruments and learn how to do it, they actually prefer it for many procedures,” Dr. Carvalho, an associate professor of general surgery at Pernambuco University, Recife, Brazil, said in an interview.
Dr. Carvalho debunked the following “myths” about minilaparoscopy:
1. Single-port laparoscopy is cosmetically superior to minilaparoscopy. That’s not the case, Dr. Carvalho said. The few published papers on this subject compared single-port laparoscopy with older, high-friction instruments for minilaparoscopy, he said.
2. Minilaparoscopy should not be performed on obese patients. That’s false, Dr. Carvalho said. “Using newer instruments, we can move around better and see better for delicate operations in obese patients, but surgeons need special training,” he said.
3. Patients don’t want minilaparoscopy. The only published paper looking at patient preference did not offer patients minilaparoscopy with the newer instruments, Dr. Carvalho said. He and his colleagues plans to publish a paper based on research showing that 47% of patients prefer minilaparoscopy, compared with 27% who preferred single-port procedures. “There is a role for single-port procedures,” he added.
4. Minilaparoscopy hurts more than single-port laparoscopy. “No one can prove that minilap hurts less, but it is obvious and intuitive that smaller trocars and instruments cause less pain,” Dr. Carvalho said. “Surgeons want randomized trials, but they won’t be done because this is obvious.”
5. Surgeons lose dexterity and precision with minilaparoscopy. In new research that will be published in the Journal of the Society Laparoendoscopic Surgeons, Dr. Caravalho and his colleagues demonstrate that newer minilaparoscopy instruments are better than larger instruments for delicate tasks. In this study, 22 medical students and 22 surgical residents were given one gross task and three delicate tasks to perform randomly with a 3-mm frictionless trocar, a 3-mm high-friction trocar, and a 5-mm trocar. The larger instruments were significantly better for the gross task, while the smaller instruments were significantly better for the delicate tasks, Dr. Carvalho said. “This study shows the utility of precise, delicate instruments for delicate procedures,” he said.
Dr. Caravalho reported that he is an unpaid consultant for Karl Storz on the development of minilaparoscopic low-friction trocars.