Laparoscopic surgery or keyhole surgery is minimally invasive surgery that is associated with several advantages over traditional open surgery.
In an open procedure, one large abdominal incision is made to expose the tissues and structures inside for examination and surgery. In a laparoscopic procedure on the other hand, only a small incision of up to 1.5 cm in length is made in the abdomen, usually around the belly button area. The abdomen is then inflated with carbon dioxide to expand the abdominal walls and give the surgeon a clear view of the structures inside, as well as providing them with room to work. A laparoscope is inserted through the incision and used to examine the organs and tissues inside the abdomen.
If necessary, further small incisions can be made to provide access for other small instruments that can then be threaded through to the site of operation so that damaged tissue can be removed or a biopsy taken, for example. Once the operation is finished, the carbon dioxide is expelled from the abdomen and the incisions are closed using stitches.
Some of the advantages of this procedure over open surgery are described below:
- The risk of bleeding during surgery is reduced because the size of the incision made is so much smaller than the large incision that is made for open surgery. This reduces the likelihood of a blood transfusion being needed to compensate for blood loss.
- The smaller incision size also reduces the risk of pain and bleeding after surgery. When a large incision has been made, patients usually require long-term pain relief medication while the stitch-line heals. With laparoscopic surgery, the post-surgical wound is much smaller and the healing process much less painful.
- The smaller incision also leads to the formation of a significantly smaller scar after surgery. In cases where the surgical wound is larger, the scar tissue that forms is more likely to become infected as well as being more vulnerable to herniation, particularly in overweight and obese patients.
- Exposure of the internal organs to external contaminants is significantly reduced in laparoscopic surgery compared with open surgery, therefore reducing the risk of post-operative infection.
- The length of hospital stay required is significantly shorter with laparoscopic surgery, since healing is so much faster. Most patients receive a same-day or next-day discharge and can return to their normal everyday lives much more quickly than after an open surgery procedure.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc