Division of Pediatric General, Thoracic and Fetal Surgery

A Guide to Your Child's Surgery

Our Surgery Guide will help you and your family prepare for your child's upcoming surgery, outlining what to expect from the first pre-op visit all the way through to her discharge.

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Minimally Invasive Surgery

Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) goes by a lot of names: keyhole surgery, bandaid  surgery, scarless surgery, minimal access surgery, general endoscopic surgery, etc. Whatever it is called, minimally invasive surgery is a set of techniques that allow the surgeon to operate through very small incisions using a surgical telescope and specially-designed instruments.

When MIS is done in the abdomen, it is called laparoscopy. In the chest, the method is called thoracoscopy. This is why fundoplication (for reflux disease) may be called a “laparoscopic Nissen” or “laparoscopic Toupet” procedure. Similarly, removal of a malformed lung lobe would be called “thoracoscopic lobectomy.”

In all cases,  procedures done using MIS methods are the same as those done using conventional techniques. That is to say, they are as safe, produce the same surgical result, and “work” as well as conventional operations. But there are several differences:

In other words, we use minimally invasive methods whenever they can decrease risks of an operation. Here is a partial list of minimally invasive procedures performed by the Division of General Surgery.

CHOP has state of the art minimally invasive surgery capability. The Operating Room complex at the Main Campus is equipped with 10 high-definition MIS “suites,” each of which is stocked with devices specially selected for use in infants and children. The surgical instruments are constantly maintained by technicians who work at CHOP full time. The nurses have undergone specialized training as well. The surgeons have extensive experience with these techniques, particularly with the modifications of the methods required to expertly apply them in babies and children.

Watch the video below to learn more about CHOP's minimally invasive surgery capabilities.



Advancing technologies

Robotic technologies are helping to advance minimally invasive treatment options for patients. The Division of Pediatric General, Thoracic and Fetal Surgery at CHOP offers patients the option of having daVinci®-assisted laparoscopic and thoracoscopic surgery, also known as robotic surgery.

How does robotic-assisted surgery work?

In certain complex cases, a surgical robot is used to facilitate the procedure. The robotic instruments, which are controlled directly by your pediatric surgeon, use very fine movements resulting in minimal trauma to tissue. When the surgeon is finished, the laparoscope and other instruments are removed, the incisions are stitched and dressings are applied.

Who is a good candidate for robotic surgery?

While robotic surgery was first used for adult patients, smaller and more precise tools customized for use in children are making daVinci-assisted procedures possible for pediatric patients. These latest advancements in technology allow pediatric surgeons to perform complex, delicate procedures in smaller spaces.

The following procedures are among those well-suited for minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery:

What are the advantages of robotic surgery?

Robotic technology offers many of the same advantages of traditional minimally invasive surgery techniques, with a few added benefits.

Broadening the surgical options for your child

A minimally invasive approach is not always the right choice for your child. Some children have anatomy or physiology that is not conducive to these methods. On the other hand, previous conventional surgery is not necessarily a contraindication to using minimally invasive surgery. Regardless of the circumstance, CHOP’s MIS capability broadens the available options, so that the operation can better fit your child’s particular needs. Your surgeon can explain more.

To explore minimally-invasive surgical options for your child, contact us at 215-590-2730



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Small Wonder

Watch an introduction to minimally invasive surgery at CHOP.

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