Minimally Invasive Surgery

What is Minimally Invasive Surgery?

Traditional, or "open," surgery calls for large incisions and longer recovery times for patients. However, advances in computer imaging have paved the way for less invasive techniques. From tiny, tube-like cameras that can look inside the body to imaging machines that provide real-time views in the operating room, cancer surgeons have many tools to provide effective cancer treatment with much less impact on the patient. As these minimally invasive techniques advance, many are replacing standard surgery for a variety of cancers.

Minimally invasive surgery at UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health is a surgical approach to cancer management designed to minimize trauma, maximize outcomes and enable patients to quickly return to their normal life.

Our surgeons use minimally invasive techniques to collect tissue for biopsy and to perform accurate "staging" studies to determine the best cancer treatment plan. In some cases, the Cancer Center and ORMC surgeons use a state-of-the-art robotic device to assist with minimally invasive cancer operations.

Benefits of Minimally Invasive Surgery

  • Less blood loss
  • Decreased need for blood transfusions
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Decreased pain and need for postoperative pain medications
  • Earlier resumption of regular diet
  • Less scarring and improved cosmetic appearance
  • Quicker recovery and return to normal activities

Minimally Invasive Technologies Available

  • da Vinci® Robotic Surgery
  • Video assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS)
  • Laparoscopy
  • Hysteroscopy

da Vinci® Surgical System

While minimally invasive surgical techniques have been offered for several years, advances in robotic technology are providing even better results for both patients and surgeons. The Cancer Center and ORMC use the da Vinci® surgical system, which allows even more control and enhanced imaging of the surgical field.

Although the robotic arms are doing the actual surgery, they still require direct input from the surgeon and cannot be merely programmed to operate without human intervention. Candidates for robotic-assisted surgery include patients undergoing prostatectomy, hysterectomy, thoracic procedures and some general surgeries.

Benefits of Robotic-assisted Surgery

  • Smaller incisions
  • Less blood loss and need for transfusion
  • Decreased pain, discomfort and recovery time
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Less scarring and improved cosmetic appearance

Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS)

VATS is offered for select patients as treatment of early-stage lung cancer. In most VATS procedures, surgeons operate using special instruments through two to foursmall openings between the ribs while viewing a patient's anatomy on a TV monitor.

VATS reduces hospital stays to about three to four days and patients experience a faster recovery with less pain afterward as compared with a traditional thoracotomy. Not all surgeons can perform these complex surgeries or VATS lobectomy, since limited access requires specialized training in minimally invasive surgery and a large experience in lung surgery. Minimally invasive surgery is performed on an inpatient and outpatient basis.


Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure that allows surgeons to examine the abdominal organs or the female pelvic organs through a small incision in the abdominal wall. A thin, lighted tube, called a laparoscope, is inserted through the incision to examine the surgical area. Surgeons are then able to view tumors and surrounding structures in order to diagnose problems, such as cysts, adhesions, fibroids, and infections. Tissue samples can be collected for biopsy through the scope.


Hysteroscopy can be used to diagnose and treat many intrauterine and endocervical problems. It is a diagnostic and surgical procedure that enables surgeons to examine the inside of the uterus without making an incision. During the procedure, a thin, telescopic lighted instrument, called a hysteroscope, is inserted through the vagina and cervix and into the uterus. 

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Preserving a positive self-image during or after cancer treatment is an important part of cancer survivorship.  That is why the Cancer Center created the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Center.