Minimally Invasive Surgery

The Department of Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) is a pioneering, international leader in minimally invasive surgery, performing thousands of procedures annually and serving as a premier training and research site. Many of our board-certified surgeons were among the first innovators of minimally-invasive surgical techniques. BWH was one of only 10 hospitals in the country to perform minimally invasive aortic valve surgery in the mid-1990s. Today, our surgical leaders continue to develop and advance minimally invasive approaches and teach colleagues throughout the world.

What is Minimally Invasive Surgery?

“Minimally invasive” is a term used for any type of surgery that is less invasive than traditional or open surgery. There are many methods of minimally invasive surgery that have become the standard of care for a wide range of medical conditions, ranging from common medical issues to complex cancers.

Surgeons skilled in minimally invasive surgery, also referred to as laparoscopic, endoscopic or “key hole” surgery, depending upon the body part, typically insert a tube with a camera and light attached, along with specially designed surgical tools into the skin through one or more tiny incisions. The camera sends images to a computer screen that the surgeon views and uses for guidance during the operation. Robotic surgery and image-guided surgery are newer, more advanced types of minimally invasive surgery that may also be used for certain conditions. These approaches can enhance a surgeon’s vision, precision and control by providing magnified, 3-D views of the surgical site.

Minimally invasive techniques have been proven to reduce pain, blood loss and recovery time as well as minimize trauma to tissue. Talk with your surgeon to see if you are a candidate for minimally invasive surgery.

Robotic-Assisted Surgery

Brigham and Women’s Hospital is one of the most experienced and diversified robotic surgery providers worldwide. Our multispecialty robotic-assisted surgery program in Boston was the first center in the region to perform 2,000 surgeries using the FDA-approved da Vinci ® Surgical System. BWH is in full compliance with recommendations made in 2013 by the Board of Registration in Medicine regarding quality control, safety and physician training for robotic-assisted surgery. We were one of the first hospitals in the nation to adopt a stringent training and credentialing process and the only facility in Massachusetts with a state-of-the-art simulation unit dedicated solely to robotic-assisted surgery training.

Image-Guided Surgery

The Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating (AMIGO) suite at BWH is a highly integrated operating suite that combines all forms of advanced imaging modalities in one suite, including MRI, PET/CT, ultrasound, x-ray fluoroscopy and angiography. The AMIGO suite is located in the National Center for Image-Guided Therapy at BWH which is supported by the National Institutes of Health. AMIGO enables clinicians to research, develop and refine real-time imaging techniques during surgery that are less invasive, tailored to individual needs and result in better outcomes. 

In 2012, Brigham and Women’s Hospital performed the first image-guided video-assisted thoracic surgery for lung cancer (iVATS).

Minimally Invasive Surgery Education and Training

Brigham and Women’s Hospital surgeons are renowned as educational leaders in minimally invasive surgery, educating colleagues on-site and worldwide, via telecommunications.

A recent Harvard Medical School conference featured telesurgeries of minimally invasive techniques performed by BWH surgeons and streamed live to conference participants.

Advanced Minimally Invasive Surgery Fellowship

The Advanced Minimally Invasive Surgery Fellowship at BWH provides surgeons intensive training in a range of procedures, including those using robotic technology. Many of our surgical physicians completed minimally invasive fellowships at BWH and bring this specialized expertise directly to their patients.

STRATUS Center for Medical Simulation

The STRATUS Center for Medical Simulation, encompassing 11,000 square feet of space at BWH, is a hands-on, state-of-the-art simulation training facility for surgeons, medical students and nurses to train for surgical scenarios that require minimally invasive techniques. The Center has the da Vinci® Surgical System, the only full-size robotic surgery simulation console in Massachusetts, identical to the actual units in BWH’s operating rooms.

Minimally Invasive Surgery Videos

View videos of minimally invasive surgical procedures including robotic-assisted surgical procedures performed by BWH surgeons.

Conditions Treated with Minimally Invasive Surgery

Whenever possible, your surgeon will recommend the least invasive surgical method to treat your condition. The Department of Surgery at BWH performs many types of minimally invasive procedures, including:


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