Soon, scar-free surgery that removes organs via patient's mouth

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London, Apr 13 : Imagine a surgery, which involves no visible scars and needs hardly any recovery time. Well, such a procedure will soon be a possibility if a leading surgeon has his way.

The technique, called Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES), is a new form of scar-free surgery in which diseased organs are pulled out through the patient's throat.

Professor Lord Darzi, chair of surgery at Imperial College London, has conducted preliminary experiments with the technique in which robotically controlled instruments are lowered into the patient's stomach.

In the procedure, a hole is made in the lining of the stomach, then the organ - usually an appendix or gall bladder - is cut out and pulled up through the throat before the hole is stitched, leaving the patient with no external scars and a reduced risk of infection because the wounds are not exposed to the air.

The technique has been successfully used on patients in America, France and India.

While admitting it was still "early days", Lord Darzi believes the probe could eventually be used to remove cancers.

The main after-effects include a sore throat and an unpleasant taste in the mouth from having a diseased organ pulled through it.

Other orifices could be used but Darzi said he believed the mouth was the most promising. He said some aspects of the procedure needed perfecting.

"If we are going to enter through the stomach we need to develop the appropriate tools to make sure we can close the hole properly," Times Online quoted him, as saying.

Darzi's team is developing a new surgical robot called the iSnake, which they hope will assist in the new procedure and in keyhole surgery.

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