Definition of Open Surgery

Open Surgery – Any surgical operation in which the surgeon makes an incision that allows direct access to the operative site.

An open surgery incision may be quite large. Until the emergence of minimally invasive surgery procedures in the 1980s open surgery was the standard of surgical treatment for nearly all operations. Surgeons today can perform many operations with minimally invasive techniques, reserving open surgery for circumstances in which the surgeon needs the broad exposure open surgery provides.

Such circumstances include open heart surgery for operations such as coronary artery bypass graft (cabg) and heart valve replacement, open thoracotomy for operations on the lungs, open laparotomy for major operations on the structures of the abdomen such as the gallbladder and intestines, and organ transplantation.

Common risks of any surgery include bleeding and infection, which are somewhat more likely with open surgery than with minimally invasive surgery. As well, recovery and recuperation take longer with open surgery, generally 4 to 12 weeks, depending on the type of operation. Open surgery may also leave a more noticeable scar after healing.


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