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An endoscopic surgeon performs procedures through small incisions in the patient to insert tools and a camera for viewing the surgical site. This is also known as keyhole or minimally invasive surgery in a reference to the size of the incisions. Patient outcomes can be better without a large surgical wound to care for, although there is an additional level of challenge for the surgeon in working without being able to see directly. Endoscopic surgeons typically focus on a particular type of surgery, like arthroscopic surgery on the joints.
A typical day for an endoscopic surgeon can start with reviewing planned surgical cases for the day. The doctor receives reports from supporting staff members to confirm the patient is cleared for surgery, and may meet briefly with the patient to answer last minute questions. In the operating room, the surgeon waits for clearance from the anesthesiologist and makes a series of small cuts to insert a camera, called an endoscope, along with other tools.
The inside of the body can be a cramped space, making it hard to see, even with illumination. To address this problem, an endoscopic surgeon can pump in a small amount of gas to inflate the area, creating room to work. A monitor displays what the endoscope sees, allowing the surgeon to manipulate tools to access the area of interest and perform the necessary procedure. In an emergency, the doctor can convert to an open incision; this might be necessary to control bleeding of unknown cause, for example.
Once an endoscopic surgeon is satisfied, the tools can be withdrawn and the surgical site can be closed. Patients are moved into recovery, where the surgeon may check on them to make sure they are doing well. In follow-up appointments, the endoscopic surgeon monitors healing progress, checks the incision sites, and confirms the patient is recovering appropriately.
This job also requires meeting with new patients to discuss and plan procedures. People may seek out a surgeon on their own or get a referral from their own medical providers. The endoscopic surgeon can talk about treatment options, techniques, and outcomes with other patients. Such sessions help people make informed decisions about who they want to work with for a surgical procedure.
Depending on where a surgeon works, there may also be a teaching role, mentoring medical students and doctors as they learn endoscopic surgery. Departmental heads will need to maintain paperwork, meet staffing needs, and participate in meetings and policy planning. Career development can also require publishing in academic journals, attending conferences, and presenting at workshops to establish credentials. In addition, working surgeons need to meet continuing education and license requirements so they can keep practicing medicine.