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What is Microsurgery?

By C. Martin
Updated May 17, 2024
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In medicine, microsurgery refers to a number of surgical techniques that make use of a surgical microscope. These techniques are now used in most branches of surgery, including plastic surgery, gynecological surgery, orthopedic surgery, pediatric surgery, and maxillofacial surgery. The most common applications are those where reconstruction of tissues is required, as microsurgery instruments enable a surgeon to attach or reattach organs, tissues, and pieces of skin. The microscopes that the surgeon uses during reconstructive microsurgery, along with miniature instruments, which are sometimes driven by computers, allowing tiny nerves and blood vessels to be aligned and repaired.

Laser microsurgery is a special kind of surgery that involves the use of a microscope along with a laser. The laser enables a surgeon to take a less invasive approach. This kind of surgery sometimes enables a surgeon to repair organs or remove cancerous masses without the need for making physical incisions.

In endoscopic microsurgery, a microscope is mounted on an instrument called an endoscope. An endoscope is a flexible, or sometimes a rigid, tube that is inserted into the body via a natural opening or an incision. Where an incision is used to insert the endoscope, the term keyhole surgery is sometimes used for these types of procedure. The endoscope provides a light source, and a means of transmitting images back via the tube for a surgeon to view through an eyepiece or on a videoscreen. The surgeon can then perform various surgical processes by inserting scalpels, lasers, or other instruments into a channel in the endoscope.

There are many applications for the use of microscopes in endoscopic surgery, including treatment for the intestines, the lungs, the ear canal, and the uterus in women. Transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) is an example of a surgical approach that is used with much success to treat lesions in the rectum. In the past, this type of surgery had to be performed via extensive abdominal incisions. Some forms of microsurgery in the hand also make use of an endoscope.

Lumbar surgery is another area where patients may benefit greatly from the use of microscopes and tiny instruments. Regular lumbar surgery typically involves a large incision, which takes a long time to heal. Lumbar microsurgery allows a surgeon to make a very small incision and perform delicate operations, such as the removal of damaged portions of bone or spinal disk.

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Discussion Comments
By Vincenzo — On Jun 18, 2014

@Logicfest -- in theory, outpatient surgery should also cost less. However, microsurgery is still a comparably expensive technique that can inflate medical bills considerably. Perhaps as technology advances and the procedure becomes more common, we will see a significant drop in medical expenses.

Once that day arrives, then we're talking about a real breakthrough in terms of cost effectiveness.

By Logicfest — On Jun 17, 2014

Patience that have a condition that can be treated with microsurgery rather than "regular" surgery should count themselves lucky. Well, not lucky that they have to have surgery but lucky that they have something that can be treated with a less invasive procedure (you get the idea).

Microsurgery, of course, is incredibly less invasive than regular surgery and in some cases means that someone can have the procedure down outpatient instead of spending a lot of time recovering in a hospital bed.

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