Surgeons Remove Appendix Through Patient's Mouth

The incision in the patient's belly button is so small that it would seem insignificant, but any cut through the skin is subject to infection and other problems, not to mention scarring.

"We hope that in the future, maybe, we can do everything without opening the abdominal wall at all," Horgan said.

But first, they will need more advanced equipment, and more training for surgeons, so Horgan doubts that this is likely to become so routine that standard surgery techniques will be replaced. So it may not be coming to every neighborhood anytime soon.

And more evidence needs to show that, as Horgan put it, patients actually benefit from this procedure.

So much depends on what people like Scholz, who volunteered for the program, has to say about it. A statement from Scholz released by the university makes it clear that he's a convert, at least for now.

"A day after surgery, I have little pain, a '2' on a scale of 1 to 10," he said.

Lee Dye is a former science writer for the Los Angeles Times. He now lives in Juneau, Alaska.

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