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American Family Children's Hospital

Minimally Invasive Surgery Glossary

At UW Health, we offer a broad range of minimally-invasive surgical services unmatched in Wisconsin and beyondSurgeons at UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin, perform minimally invasive surgery for patients whenever possible. But what does minimally invasive surgery entail? Our glossary sheds some light on the subject.


Endoscopic: This procedure can be used to examine a person's digestive tract. During the procedure, an endoscope - a flexible tube with a light and camera attached to it - is used to view pictures of your digestive tract on a monitor. An upper endoscopy examines the esophagus, stomach and small intestine, while a lower endoscopy – also referred to as sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy – examines the large intestine for the presence of disease. 


Endovascular: A surgical procedure that can be performed via blood vessels to access difficult regions of the body.


Laparoscopic: During this procedure, tiny instruments are passed through ports and used to perform the operation. Laparoscopy requires the abdomen to be inflated with carbon dioxide to provide a working and viewing space for surgeons. One of the instruments, the laparoscope, transmits images from the abdominal cavity to high-resolution video monitors in the operating room. Surgeons watch detailed images of the abdomen on the monitor. This system allows the surgeon to perform the same operations as traditional surgery but with smaller incisions.


Robot-assisted surgery: Surgeons are seated a few feet away from the operating table and look at a screen that produces a magnified, three-dimensional image of the surgical landscape. Surgeons carefully maneuver "robotic" arms fitted with small surgical instruments and a small camera scope that provides a detailed view of the patient. The system allows the surgeon's hand movements to be scaled, filtered and translated into precise movements of micro-instruments. The three-dimensional view enables surgeons to perform precise surgery through small surgical incisions.


View a list of minimally invasive procedures available at UW Health