Does Minimally Invasive Really Matter for Colorectal Surgery?

April 17, 2024


Does taking a minimally invasive approach to colorectal surgery really matter? The short answer is YES! The primary reasons for this include less pain after surgery, decreased scarring, and shorter recovery times.

We do minimally invasive surgery at Alabama Colon and Rectal Institute whenever it is the best choice for our patients. Here is more information about why.

Why Have Minimally Invasive Colorectal Surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) typically refers to both laparoscopic and robotic surgery. It involves specialized techniques using smaller incisions and instruments for improved visualization during the operation or procedure. Minimally invasive techniques can be used for many surgical needs including those related to the gallbladder and intestine, as well as the colon and rectum. 

Laparoscopic surgery vs. robotic surgery

These modern surgical techniques make use of the laparoscope, a long fiber optic cable system that allows for easy internal viewing of the human body. Our surgeons provide both traditional laparoscopic as well as robotic surgical options for our patients. While both operations are considered minimally invasive, there are some differences. 

In traditional laparoscopic surgery, small incisions are made by the surgeon and the camera is held by a medical professional. The instruments are directly controlled by the physician. 

In robotic surgery, the camera and instruments are moved by a robot that is controlled by the surgeon sitting at a console in the room. Control over the instruments and visualization can be superior with robotic surgery. 

Robotic surgery is the best technology from a visualization standpoint, particularly when we are performing difficult work. More involved surgeries require the absolute best range of motion possible. The robotic instruments are known as “wristed,” meaning that they rotate in a 360-degree pattern. Our hand and wrist can only rotate in a 210-degree motion, so the robotic arm can twist in a way the human wrist cannot. 

We want to note again that the robot is always in the hands of the surgeon. It does not operate independently or do any maneuvers that the surgeon is not performing. We are always in control of what’s happening, but we are utilizing the benefits of the robot to help us with that visualization and range of motion that is so important.

We use robotics for any abdominal surgery that requires a resection, such as many cancer surgeries, plus abdominal surgery for diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis. 

More About a Minimally Invasive Approach

Every patient is different; therefore, every surgery is different resulting in varying experiences. Keeping that in mind, here are some things the average patient should expect with minimally invasive surgery at Alabama Colon and Rectal Institute:

  • Patients receive instructions on how best to prepare for the surgery, including a bowel prep kit that is often necessary before the operation. 
  • Minimally invasive surgery most often requires general anesthesia. This means patients should not drive after surgery. 
  • Tissue may be removed for biopsy and to document potential health issues. 
  • Most patients undergoing minimally invasive colon surgery will require one to three nights in the hospital. (With more traditional surgery, this time would likely be closer to a week.)
  • There is often much less pain after MIS, which typically means a quicker and easier recovery. This also potentially results in fewer long-term risks than traditional open surgery.
  • With smaller incisions, chances for hernias and obstructions related to scar tissue or adhesions are significantly reduced. 

Taking a minimally invasive approach, either through laparoscopic or robotic surgery, is a very effective way to handle colorectal surgeries, and we are so thankful to be able to provide these services to our patients! Always feel free to ask the doctors and nurses on our staff any questions you may have.

Learn more about the types of minimally invasive surgeries performed at Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute.

Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute specializes in treating diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus. We are  experts in performing colonoscopies, anorectal surgery, and minimally invasive colon surgery. Our three doctors are known regionally for their expertise in these areas. Visit our website for more information, give us a call to make an appointment at 205-458-5000, or email us at [email protected].  

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