Surgical Oncology

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Open Surgery

Open surgery is the traditional form of cancer surgery, where the surgeon makes one long incision to see inside a patient and perform the necessary procedures to diagnose, stage, or treat cancer. UW Medicine surgeons are all experts in open surgical techniques, and many specialize in specific cancer operations as well.

Examples of open surgeries are laparotomy, open surgery of the abdomen, and thoracotomy, open surgery of the chest. Maxillofacial surgeries may be open surgeries as well.

For many complex procedures, an open approach is preferred or warranted over a minimally invasive approach. Knowing when to perform an open or minimally invasive procedure is important, and this is part of the expertise offered by UW Medicine surgeons. Your surgeon will carefully consider all the options and recommend the approach that’s most appropriate for you.
Sometimes it’s not possible to use a minimally invasive approach. For example, small incisions may not provide adequate access if patients have adhesions from past surgeries or because of the size or location of a tumor. In these cases, a large incision is needed.