Healthy Sooner

Healthy Sooner – Patient Information for Minimally Invasive Surgery

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Watch SAGES’ Healthy Sooner Segment on Minimally Invasive Surgery airing on Lifetime Television®

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Healthy Sooner FAQs

At Healthy Sooner our mission is to improve the overall value of patient care through promoting the adoption of and access to minimally invasive surgical techniques.

What are the benefits of minimally invasive surgery?

When compared to traditional surgery, minimally invasive surgery can result in much less pain and swifter recovery while providing an alternative for repairing and preventing a wide range of conditions. Depending on the procedure, patients may leave the hospital the same day, or in a few days, and return to normal activities more quickly than patients recovering from open surgery.

What happens during a minimally invasive procedure?
During a minimally invasive procedure, a surgeon makes several small incisions (often less than an inch) or no incisions performing a procedure through the mouth or rectum. A miniature camera (usually a laparoscope or endoscope) is then placed through one of the incisions, the mouth, or rectum, and images from the camera are projected onto monitors in the operating room so surgeons can get a clear and magnified view of the surgical area. Specialized surgical tools through small incisions or an endoscope are used to perform the procedure.

What are some common minimally invasive procedures?

Minimally invasive surgery is the optimal choice for patients for a significant number of surgical procedures including:

  • hernia repair
  • colon resection
  • appendectomy
  • procedures to prevent heartburn
  • gallbladder removal
  • bariatric or weight-loss surgery

What should every patient know?

Patients should be informed by their physician or surgeon when making any healthcare decisions. If you are a patient considering minimally invasive surgery (MIS), we encourage you to review our Patient Information Brochures to learn if you may be a candidate for less invasive surgery, questions to ask your surgeon or physician, common procedures, how to prepare, what happens during your operation and what is expected after surgery.

What do the latest studies say about minimally invasive surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery has been shown to shorten hospital stays, decrease pain and provide patients with a more rapid recovery as well as cost savings. A recent John Hopkins study showed that 170,000 fewer hospital days, 4,306 fewer postoperative complications and $337M in annual savings would occur if surgeons at hospitals that more often used open surgical procedures increased their rates of minimally invasive procedures to the average of those hospitals that used them the most.1

Is minimally invasive surgery underutilized?

Despite the demonstrated benefits, penetrance of some minimally invasive procedures continues to be a hurdle. The table below outlines some common procedures and percentages of these that are done utilizing a minimally invasive technique.

Procedure% Conducted Minimally Invasively
Elective Abdominal Wall Hernia Repair26.6 2
Inguinal Hernia Repair30 3
Colectomy31.4 4

What this means is that for many common medical procedures, the majority are still conducted as open procedures and as a result patients may be experiencing unnecessary pain and undergoing prolonged recovery times.

What factors contribute to the under-utilization of minimally invasive techniques?

Limited access to training and knowledge for physicians is one obstacle.  Additionally, significant socioeconomic differences in access to minimal invasive techniques persist. For example, in the case of laparoscopic colectomy urban hospital location and private insurance were significant hospital characteristics predicting the use of laparoscopy overall. Age above 80 years significantly decreases the utilization of laparoscopy and African American race, Medicaid insurance status and self-pay are significant socioeconomic characteristics negatively influencing the use of the minimal invasive technique.

What is SAGES doing to address these disparities?

SAGES is committed to empowering patients and referring physicians with the data, knowledge and training on minimally invasive techniques available. Just last year SAGES launched its “Healthy Sooner” initiative in order to raise awareness among patients about the benefits of MIS and to promote the adoption of MIS techniques among health care providers.


1 Martin A. Makary, MD, MPH et al. Hospital Cost Implications of Increased Use of Minimally Invasive Surgery. JAMA Surgery, March 2015 DOI: 10.1001/jamasurg.2014.4052

2 Current national practice patterns for inpatient management of ventral abdominal wall hernia in the United States. Funk LM, Perry KA, Narula VK, Mikami DJ, Melvin WS. Department of Surgery, Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA

3 National Surgical Quality Improvement Project,

4 Growth of laparoscopic colectomy in the United States: analysis of regional and socioeconomic factors over time. Bardakcioglu, Khan A, Aldridge C, Chen J. Division of Colon & Rectal Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Nevada, School of Medicine, Las Vegas, NV 89103, USA.

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