Pure natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) cholecystectomy


Enthusiasm for natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) has been partly tempered by the reality that most NOTES procedures to date have been laparoscopically assisted. After safely performing transvaginal cholecystectomy in an IACUC-approved porcine model, the authors embarked on an institution review board (IRB)-approved protocol for ultimate performance of pure NOTES cholecystectomy in humans. They describe their experience performing a true NOTES transvaginal cholecystectomy after safely accomplishing three laparoscopically assisted or hybrid procedures in humans. One of the patients was a 35-year-old woman presenting with symptoms of biliary colic. Ultrasound confirmed gallstones, and her liver enzymes were normal. Pneumoperitoneum to 15 mmHg was obtained via a transvaginal trocar placed through a colpotomy made under direct vision. A double-channel endoscope then was advanced into the abdomen. To overcome the retracting limitations of currently available endoscopes, the authors used an extra-long 5-mm articulating retractor placed into the abdomen via a separate colpotomy made under direct vision using the flexible endoscope in a retroflexed position. Endoscopically placed clips were used for control of both the cystic duct and the artery. These techniques obviated the need for any transabdominally placed instruments or needles. This patient was the first to undergo a completely NOTES cholecystectomy at the authors’ institution, and to their knowledge, in the United States. She was discharged on the day of surgery and at this writing has not experienced any complication after 1 month of follow-up evaluation. Performance of NOTES transvaginal cholecystectomy without aid of laparoscopic or needleoscopic instruments is feasible and safe for humans. Additional experience with this technique are required before studies comparing it with standard laparoscopy and hybrid techniques are appropriate.

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Marc Bessler is a consultant for Olympus, Covidien, and Ethicon and receives fellowship support from Covidien and Ethicon. Dennis Fowler was a consultant for Karl Storz Endoscopy of America. Peter Stevens is a consultant for Boston Scientific. Andrew A. Gumbs, John C. Evanko, and Luca Milone have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.

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Correspondence to Marc Bessler.

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Bessler, M., Gumbs, A.A., Milone, L. et al. Pure natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) cholecystectomy. Surg Endosc 24, 2316–2317 (2010).

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  • Cholecystectomy
  • Pure NOTES
  • Transvaginal surgery