Just as laparoscopy revolutionized surgery a few decades ago, now a new technique undergoing clinical trials is setting the stage for the surgery of the future. Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES) may very well be the wave of the future.
Unlike traditional surgeries, NOTES does not require any external incisions. Instead, as the name implies, surgeons make use of natural orifices, most often the mouth or vagina. Surgical instruments are threaded into the body and then internal incisions through either the vaginal wall or digestive tract place the implements where they are needed. Because the affected internal areas have few pain receptors, in sharp contrast to skin, patients require far less pain medication either during or after the procedures.
Thus far, doctors have successfully removed gall bladders, kidneys and appendixes, and repaired hernias via this method. The easiest orifice to use seems to be the vagina, which gives women an obvious advantage. However, the Natural Orifice Surgery Consortium for Assessment and Research (NOSCAR), formed in 2006, is conducting clinical trials in the hopes of bringing scarless surgery to everyone.