A Spider In The Operating Room

FRESNO, Calif.

In the last 10 to 20 years, laparoscopic surgery has changed that, introducing less invasive surgeries with smaller incisions and less down time. Now, the technology is moving to even less-invasive, single-incision surgeries. Among the newest -- an innovative new approach called spider surgery.

Joanna Armas loves to play in the kitchen. But for years, she lived with a painful obstructed kidney that made food and eating no fun.

"A lot of abdominal bloating, pain. Sometimes, if I would eat certain kinds of foods, I would feel that I wouldn't digest them properly. Your body doesn't function the same, and your body's trying to fight back." Joanna Armas, obstructed kidney patient, told Ivanhoe.

Armas is one of the first patients in the U.S. to undergo a brand new laparoscopic surgery called spider nephrectomy, spider stands for single port instrument delivery extended reach.

"If I'm going to remove an organ, I have to see around it and underneath it," Raymond J. Leveillee, M.D., FRCS-G, Professor of Urology at the U. of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami said.

Traditional laparoscopic surgery uses three or four incisions triangulated to allow the best access and visualization inside the body with the camera and other surgical instruments. This spider-like instrument does the same thing through a single incision.

"The spider instrument allows flexible instruments to be put in that are rigid enough to do the job. They're not flimsy or floppy but they do the angulations inside the body cavity," Dr. Leveillee said.

In Armas's surgery, surgeons were able to break up the diseased kidney and suction it out -- leaving behind a belly button incision less than one-inch long.

"I was better instantly," Armas said.

"There's not a lot of support scientifically to show less pain but anecdotally we've seen that in a limited number of patients, so there may be some advantages that we don't even realize yet."

"Now, I can do whatever I want whenever, and it's very nice," Armas said.

Unlike its eight-legged counterpart, this is one spider that patients could learn to like.

Joanna's kidney removal surgery, performed at the University of Miami Miller School Of Medicine, was only the second spider surgery of its kind to be done in the United States. Though it is no longer considered experimental, it's still only available in a handful of U.S. medical centers.

If you would like more information, please contact:
Lisa Worley, Director of Media Relations
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Miami, FL

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