The last 25 years have witnessed a transformation in how surgery is performed and patients heal. Infection rates have dropped. Surgeries are now less invasive thanks to smaller incisions, surgeons using natural openings in the body, and a rise in the use of robots.
The rate of surgical site infections is now down to only five percent, according to the Joint Commission, a group that certifies health care organizations. According to the American College of Surgeons, the rate of infections has been reduced over the last few years. This is in thanks to new and higher standards in care, including the use of chlorhexidine for preoperative bathing of the surgical site, and decreasing traffic in and out of the operating room. The Joint Commission developed an official implementation guide for hospitals regarding effective practices. As a result, the infection rate and number of complications in hospitals have dropped.
Laparoscopic surgery is another successful technique. This minimally invasive method is less painful, and includes a faster recovery speed and less scarring. Instead of making a large incision as surgeons would have done in the past, now a surgeon makes several small incisions and inflates the site. They then use a special camera called a laparoscope to capture images of the patient’s insides. Surgeries that used to require weeks of recovery now involve only a few days before the patient can return to their usual activities.
Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery
Natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery is similar to laparoscopic surgery, but it doesn’t require any incisions. Surgeons perform procedures through natural openings in the body including the mouth, rectum, and urethra. These procedures are still in experimental stages at many research hospitals, but this type of surgery represents the next major development in non-invasive surgeries. Patients recover more quickly, and have no scarring because the procedure does not involve cutting through layers of skin, muscle, and nerves.
Surgeons now often use robotic assistance when performing surgery. The surgeon uses a computer with a 3D image to control a robotic arm with small tools attached. This arm mimics a surgeon’s movements, but allows them to be more precise. With the robot, the surgeon has a greater degree of movement. Robots also increase the surgeon’s ability to work with very small incisions. This minimally invasive surgery means that patients are able to heal much faster.
Surgery has come a long way in recent years. The field has been transformed thanks to technological innovations and new methods. The next decade is sure to see even more advancements.