A Brief History of Minimally Invasive Surgery

Surgical procedures are safer and more effective today due to major developments in anesthesia, technology, and techniques. Today, surgeons can diagnose, treat, and manage diseases and conditions once thought inoperable.

Looking back over the past 100 years, the scope of surgical practice has expanded rapidly due to advances in infection prevention. By 1930, significant advances were made in treating tumors of the brain, lung and pancreas. In the 1950s, the first open heart operation was performed, as was the first successful transplant of a human kidney. 

By the 1970s, minimally invasive surgical approaches began their remarkable journey with the development of endoscopy procedures for cataracts, spine, knee, and hip surgeries successfully completed with positive patient outcomes. In the late 1980s, surgeons began refining the minimally invasive approach to perform laparoscopic general surgical procedures—particularly cholecystectomy (surgical removal of the gall bladder). By the 1990s, laparoscopic surgical approaches were a regular part of the general surgeon's practice, and patients who were qualified candidates for the procedures were routinely offered a minimally invasive approach to selected abdominal operations, which resulted in less trauma and pain and quicker recovery times. In 1995, the minimally invasive surgical movement was implemented in coronary artery bypass surgery, again, with positive outcomes.
The use of endoscopes in neurosurgery had a diverse and very slow evolution. Beginning as early as the 1900s with sinus surgery. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the endoscope was used and popularized in specific minimally invasive brain surgery procedures. Key advantages of using the endoscope in these types of procedures was not only improved cosmetics, but it also reduced movement of sensitive brain tissues that could potentially be damaged. However, challenges remained. The endoscope must remain in the surgical opening to deliver light and magnification while the neurosurgeon is working, occupying valuable real-estate within the smaller surgical openings used in minimally invasive surgeries.
Fast forward to 2013 in neurosurgery. Recent advancements in technologies have led to the development of approaches through smaller surgical openings to reach and treat brain lesions in a targeted manner