Scar-free surgery? Well, it could soon be a reality, for researchers in Britain have developed a new and innovative technique in which the deceased organs are removed via the patient's mouth.
The research team, led by Prof Lord Darzi of Imperial College London, has already conducted preliminary experiments with the method in which robotically controlled instruments are lowered into the patient's stomach.
A hole is made in the lining of the stomach, then the organ -- usually an appendix or gall bladder -- is cut out and pulled up through the throat before the hole is stitched, leaving the patient with no external scars and a reduced risk of infection because the wounds are not exposed to the air.
The researchers are also developing a new surgical robot called the iSnake, which they hope will assist in the new procedure and in keyhole surgery.
"If we are going to enter through the stomach we need to develop the appropriate tools to make sure we can close the hole properly," 'The Sunday Times' has reported, quoted him as saying here.
Darzi has already used the technique in experiments on pigs, before the first human tests.
However, while admitting it was still "early days", Darzi said the technique could eventually be used to remove cancers. The main after-effects, he said, include a sore throat and an unpleasant taste in the mouth from having a diseased organ pulled through it.
The first operations on patients in Britain are expected in three to four years, the researchers said.