Open Surgery: What Does This Mean?

The Definition of Open Surgery

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Abdominal Surgery Incision. © Getty Images/Barrett Forster


Open surgery is the traditional type of surgery where a long incision is made for the surgeon to insert the instruments, visualizing the surgery through the incision. With an open approach, the incision for a typical appendectomy is approximately 4 inches long.

Some surgeries are still performed using the traditional open incision, but many more are being done using minimally invasive techniques.

 Minimally invasive may mean that the incision is smaller than the usual open incision, or it may mean there is no incision at all, depending upon the technique used during the procedure.

When the surgeons are equally skilled and a procedure is available as both an open procedure and a minimally invasive one, the minimally invasive technique almost always offers a lower risk of infection, shorter recovery times and equally successful outcomes.  

In some cases, a surgery may start out as a minimally invasive procedure, then convert to the larger open incision procedure if the surgeon needs more flexibility of movement. 

Related Surgery Information: Incision Care Made Easy

Examples: After the open surgical procedure the incision was closed with staples.

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