It's going to be a tricky operation. Disney (NYSE:DIS) will snap on surgical gloves and brandish a scalpel in a few months, attempting to successfully transplant a spinoff from its hit ABC show Grey's Anatomy.

The stakes are high. Popular hourlong dramas like CSI and Law & Order have spawned a ridiculous number of related series. If giving Grey's actress Kate Walsh her own show proves popular, one hit series could give ABC two hours of advertising to sell.

However, the latest successes have been crime shows. As a medical drama, a Grey's Anatomy offshoot may dilute the audience for its parent series, if the past is any indication. Remember when ER and Chicago Hope battled for ratings in the 1990s? Only one survived. Now that viewers are taking to Grey's Anatomy and News Corp.'s (NYSE:NWS) House, General Electric's (NYSE:GE) ER is drawing about half of the viewers as its younger competition.

It's still worth a shot. This isn't the same Disney that tried to blanket its entire lineup with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? a few years ago. Dragging the quiz show out to four primetime slots a week quickly killed it.

ABC has been able to rebuild its portfolio since that failed experiment. A string of hits, including Lost, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, and the seasonal smash Dancing with the Stars, should allow the network the luxury of taking a chance with Grey's Anatomy. In short, this is an elective surgical procedure.

ABC still trails CBS (NYSE:CBS) in the ratings, with the latter's CSI franchise a major contributor to the Eye Network's blue-ribbon showing. A two-hour Grey's episode that will set the stage for a spinoff should draw a commanding audience for ABC during the pivotal month of May. The bigger question is whether viewers will continue to watch both related shows in the fall.

If so, can Lost: The Others or Desperate Househusbands be too far away? Let's hope not. Be careful with that scalpel, Disney. In trying to poke the CBS eye out, you may wind up losing one of your own.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz still watches Lost religiously, though he can't say the same for the rest of the ABC slate. He owns shares in Disney. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.