Objective: To review the complications encountered in our facility and in previously published studies of transvaginal (TV) natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) to date.
Background: TV NOTES is currently observed with critical eyes from the surgical community, despite encouraging data to suggest improved short-term recovery and pain.
Methods: All TV NOTES procedures performed in female patients between 18 and 65 years of age were included. The median follow-up was 90 days. The TV appendectomies and ventral hernia repairs were pure NOTES, through a SILS port in the vagina, whereas TV cholecystectomies were hybrid procedures with the addition of a 5-mm port in the umbilicus.
Results: A total of 102 TV NOTES procedures, including 72 TV cholecystectomies, 24 TV appendectomies, and 6 TV ventral hernia repairs, were performed. The average age was 37 years old and body mass index was 29 kg/m2. Three major and 7 minor complications occurred. The first major complication was a rectal injury during a TV access port insertion. The second major complication was an omental vessel bleed after a TV cholecystectomy. The third complication was an intra-abdominal abscess after a TV appendectomy. Seven minor complications were urinary retention (4), transient brachial plexus injury, dislodgement of an intrauterine device, and vaginal granulation tissue.
Conclusions: As techniques in TV surgery are adopted, inevitably, complications may occur due to the inherent learning curve. Laparoscopic instruments, although adaptable to TV approaches, have yet to be optimized. A high index of suspicion is necessary to identify complications and optimize outcomes for patients.