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In the last two decades, minimally invasive surgery has emerged as a popular surgical treatment option because it offers faster recovery times and smaller incisions. Minimally invasive surgery includes laparoscopy and robotic surgery, where small incisions are made, and a small camera and instruments are inserted to perform the same surgery as traditional open surgery. Inspira Health is committed to expanding its minimally invasive capabilities not only to better assess and treat patients, but to change the perception around post-operative recovery.
For many South Jersey residents, recovering quickly is vital so they can return to work.
“Across the country, there is great variation in hospitals and surgeons offering minimally invasive surgery. I am an advocate for minimally invasive techniques because studies show there is less postoperative pain, decreased risk of wound infections, shorter hospital length of stay, quicker recovery and return to work and better cosmesis,” said Hsu-Tsai Amber Chi, M.D., a general surgeon at Inspira Medical Group Surgical Associates Vineland. “Many of our South Jersey residents have labor-focused careers and minimally invasive surgery allows them to return to work earlier, some in two weeks compared to four to six weeks after open surgery. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when many of our patients cannot afford to take time off from work or from caring for their family, we have an opportunity to make a positive change.”
Another advantage of the minimally invasive technique is the decreased dependency on narcotics in post-operative care.
“I am hyper-vigilant about prescribing opioids, especially with the opioid crisis. This is also a benefit of minimally invasive surgeries here at Inspira: Before surgery, I have a clear discussion with the patient about expectations after surgery. I encourage anti-inflammatory medications first, with opioids for breakthrough pain. Nearly 70 percent of my patients do not require narcotics postoperatively,” said Dr. Chi. “Most times, patients just need reassurance that they are progressing as expected, that their level of pain is appropriate and will improve day by day. And it does.”
Inspira’s Minimally Invasive Insight
When determining whether minimally invasive surgery is right for a patient, Dr. Chi considers their medical and surgical history, the type of surgery they need and their ability to tolerate general anesthesia.
“After consulting with a patient, I discuss treatment options and together, we agree on an action plan. In most cases, I start surgery with a minimally invasive approach, either laparoscopic or robotic. In emergency surgery, sometimes you need to be creative, but whenever possible, I stick to minimally invasive surgery because of the postoperative benefits,” said Dr. Chi.
Specific to Dr. Chi’s practice, the most common conditions treated by minimally invasive techniques are:
- Gallbladder disease
- Inguinal hernia
- Ventral and incisional hernias
- Paraesophageal hernia
- Bowel obstruction
“I am also a robotic surgeon. The Da Vinci® Surgical System enhances laparoscopic surgery with a state-of-the-art camera with 3D vision, precise incisions with the instruments that mimic normal human wrist motion and the ability to control four robot arms," said Dr. Chi. "Sometimes surgery cannot be completed in a minimally invasive way, meaning we need to convert to open surgery with a larger incision; however in my time here at Inspira, we haven’t had the need for conversion yet. That’s the power of robotic surgery.”
The Inspira Difference
Not only does Inspira have the technology and equipment patients need to get back to their daily lifestyle, but patients have access to this state-of-the-art technology close to home.
“If our patients can stay in the area, they want to. When patients stay local, they feel comfortable because it’s a familiar environment. Not only do patients at Inspira have access to their familial support and our cutting-edge technology, but also access to extensively trained minimally invasive surgeons,” said Dr. Chi. “I advocate for minimally invasive surgery because we are changing the narrative on surgical care. I recently had an 80-year-old patient with his entire stomach herniated into the chest behind his heart. Using the Da Vinci robotic platform, I was able to repair this hernia through five small incisions. This patient was walking with minimal pain one day after surgery. If this were done through open surgery, his recovery could have been complicated by respiratory issues, delayed bowel function and uncontrolled pain. Here, we are able to provide a less invasive approach to promote a quicker recovery.”
At Inspira Medical Group Surgical Associates Vineland, patients can seek both acute and general surgery care. For more information, or to connect with Dr. Chi directly, go to www.inspirahealthnetwork.org/provider/Chi