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New gallbladder surgery uses smallest reported incision

By Ryan Maass
The diseased gallbladder was removed through an incision in the belly button measuring 15 millimeters in diameter, believed to be the smallest ever recorded. Photo by the University of California San Diego.
The diseased gallbladder was removed through an incision in the belly button measuring 15 millimeters in diameter, believed to be the smallest ever recorded. Photo by the University of California San Diego.

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- A surgical team has completed its first gallbladder surgery using a tool that can remove the diseased organ with the world's smallest recorded incision.

The surgery was performed by a team at the University of California in San Diego, marking the first in a series of operations with the new system. During the operation, the diseased gallbladder was removed through an incision in the belly button measuring 15 millimeters in diameter.

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The procedure was completed in approximately 30 minutes under general anesthesia. Patients reported no complications after returning home.

"What we are seeing is the rapid evolution of traditional laparoscopy toward less and smaller incisions — just one tiny incision, in fact," surgery professor Santiago Horgan said in a press release. "Normally, a gallbladder removal would be performed with four incisions across the abdomen. We achieved the surgery with one small cut hidden in the umbilicus. So not only are there fewer incisions, the one that remains is incredibly small."

Horgan went on to praise the procedure as a milestone for minimally invasive surgery. In addition to trimming the time of the operation by replacing four incisions with one, he says the new approach is better for healing and aesthetics.

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The Fortimedix FMX314 surgical system used in the operation was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in August 2016. Roughly 600,000 people have their gallbladder surgically removed annually.

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