Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery

Surgeons at UC San Diego Health offer a new approach to minimally invasive surgery that uses one incision hidden in the belly button.

UC San Diego Health surgeons offer advanced minimally invasive and robotically assisted surgical techniques to help patients recover faster with less discomfort and scarring.

We are pioneers in single incision laparoscopic surgery (SILS), robotically assisted complex hernia repairs, bariatric surgeries for weight loss, and natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) for removal of diseased appendixes and gallbladders. 

Methods of Surgery

Generally, there are two levels of invasiveness for surgical procedures:

  • Open surgery, which involves cutting skin and tissues so the surgeon has direct access and visibility of the area or organs requiring attention
  • Minimally invasive surgery, which involves fewer, smaller incisions than open surgery, and sometimes no incisions at all. Using specialized instruments such as tiny video cameras and digitally enhanced displays of the surgical area, our surgical experts are able to achieve an even greater degree of precision for delicate procedures.

Learn more about the different methods of surgery at our Health Library

Minimally Invasive Surgical Methods

Though not all conditions can be treated through minimally invasive surgery, many surgical techniques now employ minimally invasive approaches. UC San Diego Health's surgeons are skilled in advanced minimally invasive surgical techniques, including:

  • Laparoscopic surgery: A small incision is made in the abdominal wall through which an instrument called a laparoscope is inserted. With this method, large pieces of diseased tissue or cancerous or damaged organs can be removed without needing a large incision. Learn more about laparoscopic surgery in our Health Library.
  • Endoscopic surgery: A thin tube with a small camera and a light attached is moved through a surgical opening or body passageway (such as the respiratory tract) to examine the organ or tissue. Learn more about endoscopy.
  • Endovascular surgery: A small incision is made near the hip to access blood vessels, and a long catheter is slid through an artery. This technique is used to treat problems affecting blood vessels, such as an aneurysm. Clogs are treated with a self-adjusting stent or inflatable balloon. Learn more about our vascular and endovascular surgery.
  • Robotically assisted surgery: A type of minimally invasive surgery that uses advanced, computer-enhanced technologies, such as the da Vinci surgical system. It is associated with improved patient outcomes and less pain, blood loss, scarring and time to recuperate. Learn more about our robotically assisted surgery.
  • Natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery (NOTES): Our team is advancing scarless surgical techniques that involve operating on damaged or diseased organs through natural openings in the body. Read an interview with Dr. Santiago Horgam about NOTES.

At UC San Diego Health, minimally invasive surgical methods are used to treat a wide range of conditions across multiple specialties, including: