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Pediatric General & Thoracic Surgery

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Minimally Invasive Surgery

What is minimally invasive surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) is a relatively new approach to performing a variety of operations for infants and children. This form of surgery uses much smaller incisions instead of the usual incisions. By using specialized, thin instruments placed through very small incisions the surgeon is able to perform the operation using a telescope, camera and a television screen. This type of surgery is often called "laparoscopic surgery" when the operation is in the child’s abdomen or belly or "thoracoscopic surgery" if in the chest. The major benefits of this type of surgery are much smaller scars, a shorter stay in the hospital after surgery in most cases, a faster return to play or school and usually much less pain after surgery.

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What operations are done in this way?

If your child should need a surgical procedure you can discuss the possibility of minimally invasive surgery with your surgeon. The most common procedures done are listed below.

Laparoscopy (abdominal operations)

  • Appendectomy: removal of appendix
  • Cholecystectomy: removal of gallbladder
  • Fundoplication with or without gastrostomy (surgery for children with gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Splenectomy: removal of spleen
  • Pyloromyotomy: correction of hypertrophic pyloric stenosis
  • Colon pull-through operation for Hirschsprung disease
  • Inguinal exploration for hernia: In a child with an inguinal hernia on one side it is sometimes important to explore the other groin for a hernia; this can also be accomplished with laparoscopic surgery.

Thoracoscopy (chest operations):

  • Drainage of empyema for infections in the chest, usually following pneumonia
  • Lung wedge resection for either benign (non-cancer) or malignant tumors or masses
  • Mediastinal mass biopsy for other masses in the chest (outside the lung)
  • Resection of an entire lobe (major section of lung) for benign or malignant disease

Which children are best treated with this type of surgery?

Most children who require surgery are candidates for minimally invasive surgery. This field of surgery is relatively new and your surgeon should have considerable experience with these types of operations in order to perform these safely. There are some children who are better treated with minimally invasive surgery and some children who may not benefit from this approach. You should discuss this with your child’s surgeon.

How can I learn more about this type of surgery?

Please contact us for more information regarding the details of a specific operation or to inquire if this may be right for your child.

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The University of Texas Health Science Center Professional Building
6410 Fannin, Suite 950
Houston, TX 77030

Phone: (832) 325-7234
Office Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
(Monday-Friday except major holidays)

Note: This information, although based on a thorough knowledge and careful review of current medical literature, is the opinion of doctors at The University of Texas Medical School and is presented to inform you about surgical conditions. It is not meant to contradict any information you may receive from your personal physician and should not be used to make decisions about surgical treatment. If you have any questions about the information above or your child's care, please contact our doctors.