The clinical NOTES literature continues to grow. This review quantifies the published human NOTES experience to date, examines instrument use in detail, and compiles available perioperative outcomes data. Methods A PubMed search for all articles describing human NOTES cases was performed. All articles providing a technical description of procedures, excluding cases limited to diagnostic procedures, specimen extraction, fluid drainage or gynecological procedures, were reviewed. Two reviewers systematically cataloged the technical details of each procedure and performed a frequency analysis of instrument use in each type of case. Available outcomes data were also compiled. Results Forty-three discrete articles were reviewed in detail, describing a total of 432 operations consisting of transvaginal (n = 355), transgastric (n = 58), transesophageal (n = 17), and transrectal (n = 2) procedures, with 90% of cases performed in hybrid fashion with laparoscopic assistance. Cholecystectomy (84% of cases) was the most common procedure. Analysis of key steps included choice of endoscope, establishment of peritoneal access, dissection, specimen extraction, and closure of the access site. Analysis of instrument use during transvaginal cholecystectomy revealed variation in the choice of endoscope and the technique for establishment of access. A majority of these procedures relied heavily on the use of rigid and transabdominal instrumentation. Closure of the vaginotomy site was found to be well standardized, performed with an open suturing technique. Similar analysis for transgastric procedures revealed consistency in the choice of flexible endoscope as well as access and closure techniques. Perioperative outcomes from NOTES procedures were reported, but the data are currently limited due to small case numbers. Conclusions NOTES is most commonly performed using a hybrid, transvaginal approach. Although some aspects of these procedures appear to be well standardized, there is still significant variability in technique. More outcomes data with standardized reporting are needed to determine the actual risks and benefits of NOTES.
- Natural orifice surgery
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