Mayo Clinic's Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery (CMIS) was established in Arizona in 1996. The goal of the center is to eliminate the need for conventional surgery through the development, testing and implementation of less invasive procedures. Members of the CMIS come from multiple disciplines in surgery, information technology, nursing and administration. The ultimate focus of the group is improving patient care.

In minimally invasive surgery, surgeons operate through tiny incisions. Tubes are inserted into the incisions and tiny instruments, such as video cameras and cutting tools, are slipped through them. The instruments allow the surgeons to perform operations with minimal injury to the body. The result is more rapid recovery and a faster return to normal living. Many of these procedures may be performed on an outpatient basis or require only a one-day stay.

Some of the more common minimally invasive surgery procedures are:


A cholecystectomy is the removal of the gallbladder. This procedure is provided to relieve pain caused by stones in the gallbladder. It takes about an hour and requires a general anesthetic. The procedure is often done as same-day (outpatient) surgery. Occasionally, an overnight stay in the hospital is required.


Portions of a diseased colon are removed laparoscopically. Various procedures are performed to treat benign conditions of the bowel as well as some cancerous conditions. A hospital stay averages four days, versus seven days for open surgery.


This procedure is performed for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the spleen, the most common being I.T.P. (a disease that destroys platelets in the blood). A hospital stay averages two days, versus five days for open surgery.


This procedure is done for a variety of afflictions of the adrenal glands, such as Cushing's (a disease that stimulates excess steroid production) or Conn's (a correctable disease causing high blood pressure). A hospital stay averages two days, versus five days for open surgery.

Anti-Reflux Surgery

Some 25 million Americans suffering from their symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease get little or no relief with prescription acid suppressants, diet modifications and lifestyle changes. this procedure is designed to alleviate these symptoms. The disease may become a potentially dangerous digestive condition resulting in esophagitis or strictures. Surgery may be curative. This procedure is sometimes referred to as a hiatal hernia repair or Nissen fundoplication. The hospital stay is generally one day.

Radio-Guided Surgery

In the case of hyperparathyroidism, this technique uses a highly specialized scanner to localize the diseased parathyroid gland and allows the surgeon to use a smaller incision to remove it. In the treatment of breast cancer or melanoma, this technique is used to locate lymph nodes that may contain cancer cells.

Endovascular Surgery

This procedure allows the surgeon to do very large vascular procedures (such as an abdominal aortic aneurysm repair) by making a small incision, and, with the use of x-ray, move through the blood vessels to correct the problem.


Diseased or non-functioning kidneys are removed laparoscopically. This procedure can treat both benign and cancerous diseases. A one-night hospital stay is usually all that is required. Patients who wish to donate a kidney to a relative or friend may now have the kidney removed with laparoscopic techniques, which greatly reduce the discomfort of the procedure and allow earlier return to full activity.