7.  MINIMALLY INVASIVE TECHNOLOGIES –
KEYHOLE SURGERY AND THE LIKE

In recent years, approaches to clinical care have developed significantly as traditional methods of treatment have been overtaken by advances in medicine, new technologies, and new types of specialist medical equipment.

Many diseases and illnesses which were previously routinely treated with surgical intervention can now successfully be managed or cured with less invasive forms of treatment. The use of minimally invasive treatments in a wide range of clinical areas has radically changed the way in which patients are cared for and the length of time their treatment takes.

Many types of major surgical operations under general anaesthetic – which carried significant risks for the patient and a lengthy recovery time both within hospital and at home – are no longer necessary following the development of keyhole surgery and a host of other specialist clinical techniques and procedures.

Even where general anaesthetic is still necessary, in many cases the extent of the surgery and its shock to the body has been reduced by modern technology. There are many examples of these important developments in modern healthcare. The removal of gall stones – to take a common procedure – used to require major surgery. Now, gall stones can be removed using keyhole surgery. Recovery time is shorter and in addition to the patient care benefits, this procedure is also far more cost-effective. (The taxpayer gets more services for every tax pound). Many other examples can be selected from different clinical specialties. In cardiology, narrowed arteries can now routinely be treated using catheter devices and angioplasty procedures. For some cases the treatment is given by a radiologist without the chest being opened in an operation. In gynaecology, laparoscopic surgery has radically improved recovery times. Cataract removal using new minimally invasive techniques is now much less complicated. And the treatment of ulcers, which often used to require an operation and a stay in hospital, has been radically improved from the patient’s perspective through the development of new drug treatments and more effective minimally invasive diagnostic technologies.

The march of new technologies is accelerating. New medicines, robotics, image guided therapies, micro-surgery on unborn babies, telemedicine, laser techniques and the like often seem like something out of science fiction but over the next ten to twenty years they will have a major impact on how health care is delivered.

Lengths of stay in hospital have, for many clinical specialties, been reduced considerably, and in many cases an in-patient stay is now unnecessary. The growing importance of minimally invasive treatments is set to continue and the way in which our hospitals provide services must change accordingly to enable patients to be provided with the best of care and the most modern and effective treatments available.

How do our proposals help? Their major feature of providing Ambulatory Care on the existing sites at Stobhill, the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Gartnavel, the Victoria Infirmary and the Southern General mean that most of these modern technologies will be locally accessible and provided in modern facilities.

If you want to know more about Minimally Invasive Technologies, NHS Estates published in 1999 an Occasional Paper prepared by the Society for Minimally Invasive Therapy called "Developments in Minimally Invasive Technology".

If you want to know more about other aspects of our proposals for improving Glasgow’s hospital services, see our list of on-line and printed leaflets by clicking here.