Surgeons at the University of California, San Diego Medical Center successfully removed a patient's gallbladder through her vagina.

The procedure was the first clinical trial surgery in the Southwest to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of performing abdominal procedures through the body’s natural openings.

The UCSD Medical Center procedure involved removing the gallbladder through the patient’s vagina without traditional incisions through the skin. One small incision through the naval was needed to help guide the surgeon.

The procedure, called Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES), involves passing surgical instruments and a tiny camera through a natural orifice, such as the mouth or the vagina, to the desired organ.

By avoiding major incisions through the skin, muscle, and nerves of the abdomen, patients may experience a quicker recovery with less pain and scarring while reducing the risk of post operative hernias, according to a new release.

Drs. Santiago Horgan and Mark A. Talamini, chairman of the Department of Surgery at UC San Diego Medical Center performed the surgery on a 42-year-old San Diego resident. Her gallbladder was removed through the vagina during a 1.5-hour procedure.

A total of four patients will be recruited for the clinical trial. One more female patient will have her gallbladder removed through the vagina and two patients will have the organ extraction performed through the mouth.