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Minimally invasive surgery (MIS), also referred to as laparoscopic surgery, is a method of surgery that utilizes instruments and cameras placed through one or more small incisions to perform operations.  This is in contrast to traditional open surgery which involves direct view of the anatomy through a long incision.  The majority of time, MIS leads to significantly less postoperative pain, a shorter hospital stay, smaller scars, faster recovery and, as in the case of gallbladder surgery, a better overall outcome.   In fact, most minimally invasive procedures can be performed in an outpatient setting.

The majority of MIS procedures often begin with the insertion of the endoscope, also referred to as a laparoscope when placed into the abdomen.  This is a long metal tube with a lighted camera at its tip.  The camera allows a two-dimensional image to be displayed on a high-definition monitor that the surgeon uses to operate.  This indirect method of viewing the operative field allows for increased magnification and visibility while avoiding long incisions.

Typical operations performed at Rhode Island Hospital using minimally invasive surgical techniques include: gallbladder surgery, hernia surgery, acid reflux surgery, achalasia surgery, colon and small intestinal surgery, appendix removal, spleen surgery, surgery for cancer, adrenal gland surgery, stomach surgery, and weight loss surgery.

Surgeons here at Rhode Island Hospital have also pioneered a number of advances in MIS, including the development of the Harmonic scalpel.  Our surgeons remain committed to investigating new uses for minimally invasive surgery and have also established a fellowship program for the continued instruction of general surgeons in advanced laparoscopic techniques.  The overall goal is to improve patient outcomes as compared to those of conventional surgery.