Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital Surgeons Group Introduces Single-Incision Laparoscopy

New surgical procedure means less pain, smaller scar and faster recovery

Laparoscopic surgery has entered a new chapter in less invasive surgical alternatives with the introduction of single-incision laparoscopy for appendectomy and cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal). And Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital’s Surgeons Group is among the region’s first to put the procedure into practice.

“While not every patient is a candidate for single-incision surgery — i.e., obese, inflamed gallbladder, ruptured appendix or significant previous abdominal scar tissue — it is our sincere hope and belief that we will ultimately be performing through a single incision on as many as 75 percent of our roughly 600 annual appendectomies and cholycystectomies,” said Dr. Stephen Ganshirt, who along with Dr. John Andrews and Dr. Kim Sobinsky can perform single-incision laparoscopic surgery on an increasingly regular basis at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital when a patient’s circumstances warrant.

“We’re only in the infancy of this procedure,” said Dr. Andrews. “But as the equipment and technology continue to improve, I can envision many more types of abdominal surgeries being performed through a single incision. For those patients who are candidates, the cosmetic, pain-reduction and overall recuperative benefits of a single incision are truly exciting.”

Maria Malin would certainly agree. On a Friday in mid-July, the 44-year-old client services manager for Windward Builders and columnist was scheduled to have her gallbladder removed by Dr. Ganshirt at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital. Weeks of severe stomach pain attributed to an enlarged gallbladder and gallstones were about to hopefully be relieved.

“Having never had a C-section or any abdominal surgery, I was nervous about the procedure,” said Malin. “Dr. Ganshirt mentioned that I might be a good candidate for a new single-incision laparoscopic surgery that he and his group had recently trained for and were introducing in their practice. He said he wouldn’t know for sure until I was in surgery, but I was excited by the possibility of only a single small incision.”

Malin’s fitness going in to the procedure paid off. She had her single-incision laparoscopic cholycystectomy and was home the next morning, requiring nothing more than Ibuprofen for discomfort.

“It’s now two weeks since my surgery, and I’m a new person,” said Malin. “I hardly have any tenderness at the incision site and my belly button looks close to what it did before my surgery. My strength and stamina are back to normal, and I don’t even think the word ‘scar’ applies here. It’s great to feel good again!”

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