In medicine, microsurgery refers to a number of surgical techniques that make use of a surgical microscope. These techniques are now used in most branches of surgery, including plastic surgery, gynecological surgery, orthopedic surgery, pediatric surgery, and maxillofacial surgery. The most common applications are those where reconstruction of tissues is required, as microsurgery instruments enable a surgeon to attach or reattach organs, tissues, and pieces of skin. The microscopes that the surgeon uses during reconstructive microsurgery, along with miniature instruments, which are sometimes driven by computers, allowing tiny nerves and blood vessels to be aligned and repaired.
Laser microsurgery is a special kind of surgery that involves the use of a microscope along with a laser. The laser enables a surgeon to take a less invasive approach. This kind of surgery sometimes enables a surgeon to repair organs or remove cancerous masses without the need for making physical incisions.
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In endoscopic microsurgery, a microscope is mounted on an instrument called an endoscope. An endoscope is a flexible, or sometimes a rigid, tube that is inserted into the body via a natural opening or an incision. Where an incision is used to insert the endoscope, the term keyhole surgery is sometimes used for these types of procedure. The endoscope provides a light source, and a means of transmitting images back via the tube for a surgeon to view through an eyepiece or on a videoscreen. The surgeon can then perform various surgical processes by inserting scalpels, lasers, or other instruments into a channel in the endoscope.
There are many applications for the use of microscopes in endoscopic surgery, including treatment for the intestines, the lungs, the ear canal, and the uterus in women. Transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) is an example of a surgical approach that is used with much success to treat lesions in the rectum. In the past, this type of surgery had to be performed via extensive abdominal incisions. Some forms of microsurgery in the hand also make use of an endoscope.
Lumbar surgery is another area where patients may benefit greatly from the use of microscopes and tiny instruments. Regular lumbar surgery typically involves a large incision, which takes a long time to heal. Lumbar microsurgery allows a surgeon to make a very small incision and perform delicate operations, such as the removal of damaged portions of bone or spinal disk.