Minimally Invasive

Minimally invasive surgery encompasses both laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery — this is the preferred surgical approach for many illnesses, including some cancer. Minimally invasive procedures are performed through one or more dime-sized incisions, with much less trauma to the body compared to conventional open surgery; which is performed through large incisions. Laparoscopic techniques vary widely but in general, the surgeon inserts a long thin tube, with a lighted camera at its tip (endoscope), through a small incision. The image of the surgical site is projected on to a high-definition monitor, which the surgeon watches throughout the operation. Specially designed surgical instruments are placed through other small incisions. Minimally invasive surgery was originally utilized for simple surgical procedures but now is being applied to even the most complex cancers.
Dr. Iddings is regarded as a leader in the field of advanced robotic surgery and has a tremendous volume and experience with complex minimally invasive surgical procedures. Complex neck surgery is now being performed without the neck incision and even some abdominal surgery is being performed through the belly button. Dr. Iddings is performing minimally invasive surgical procedures here in mid-Michigan that are not performed at all major centers across the United States.
In open surgery — the traditional way of performing an operation — surgeons make long cuts that are often 8-10 inches in length through skin, muscle and sometimes bone. Recovery from open surgery can be painful and slow. Some patients may not resume their normal routine for months. This recovery time is particularly important as many cancer patients need post operative adjuvant therapy such as chemotherapy and/or radiation which is preferably started after only a few weeks. Unlike open surgery, minimally invasive procedures are performed through one or more smaller (less than a half inch) incisions. For most patients, this leads to significantly less postoperative pain, a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery, and in some cases, a better overall outcome. Minimally invasive surgery may also allow more people — some of whom might not be candidates for open surgery — to undergo curative surgical cancer treatment.
Dr. Iddings also uses “thermal ablation” of tumors when surgery is not possible. This technique can be among the least invasive surgical procedures that can lead to cure. How does this thermal ablation work? Thermal ablation is also called Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) and a thin needle electrode is inserted into a lesion under ultrasound or CT guidance. Electrical energy is then delivered through the electrode to the lesion which produces heat within the cells surrounding the electrode. When all cells within the lesion, as well as a margin around it, are heated beyond the lethal threshold (53°C), the procedure is complete and the tumor remains in place but is essentially “cooked” and the overall treatment effect is similar to surgical resection.

Press play to see  an animation of Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) being used to treat a liver lesion.

Dr. Iddings is a contemporary surgeon scientist that has pioneered a number of advances in complex to minimally invasive cancer surgery. Dr. Iddings is committed to researching cures for cancer and this includes investigating new uses for minimally invasive surgery. Dr. Iddings summarized the challenges of providing the best surgical procedure in this way “Providing the optimal surgery is a moving target. The challenge is to apply conventional surgery where needed, while at the same time developing less-invasive treatments that are equally or more effective; bring ideal treatment to patients that need it is what it is all about.”