Laparoscopic surgery is also called minimally invasive surgery, keyhole surgery or bandaid surgery. Laparoscopic procedures can be performed using small incisions of around 0.5 to 1.5 cm that can be made far away from the surgical site. Small, thin surgical instruments can then be passed through the incision and threaded through to the operational site. The whole procedure is carried out using a laparoscope which is a small tube with a camera at the tip that can be used to relay images from inside the body to a TV monitor.
Laparoscopic surgery is commonly used in the diagnosis of a wide range of abdominal and pelvic conditions. It is also widely used to carry out surgical procedures such as the removal of diseased or damaged tissue and biopsies. The procedure is most commonly used in the study and treatment of the female reproductive system (gynecology), followed by conditions of the digestive system (gastroenterology) and conditions affecting the urinary system (urology).
Some of the main advantages of laparoscopic surgery over traditional open surgery are described below:
- Laparoscopic procedures often require a shorter hospital stay than traditional open surgery
- Patients also experience less pain and bleeding after surgery
- As the incision wound is so much smaller than the large incision made in traditional open surgery, post-surgical scarring is significantly reduced.
The main procedure involves the following steps:
- A patient is given a general anesthetic and feels no pain throughout the procedure.
- One or more small incisions are made in the abdomen, usually around the belly button area.
- A tube is inserted at the incision site and the abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide gas. This allows the surgeon a better view of the internal organs, as well as more room to work. The laparoscope is inserted through the tube and images of the internal structures are relayed to the TV monitor.
- Surgical instruments can then be inserted via further small incisions that can be made, depending on what the surgeon finds and what procedures they need to perform.
- Once the operation is finished, the gas is expelled from the abdomen and the incision is closed using stitches.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc