Laparoscopic surgeries are an increasingly used method of surgery that is less invasive, promotes faster healing and causes less surrounding tissue damage than traditional surgical incisions for a multitude of conditions. For example, in the "old days", an individual undergoing an appendectomy would experience a 4 to 6 inch long incision on the lower right abdomen so the surgeon could access and remove the appendix. Today, laparoscopic procedures for the same operation require 1 to 3 very small incisions, most commonly measuring only a centimeter or two in length.
What is Laparoscopic Surgery?
Laparoscopic surgery is also known as keyhole surgery or minimally invasive surgery (MIS). The technique enables surgeons to view, access and remove sections or entire organs through very small incisions rather than large incisions that cause extensive tissue damage, longer healing processes and greater risk of infection.
Laparoscopy, or the use of a laparoscope, offers surgeons an "inside view" of an individual's body without having to make a large incision to see inside it. The laparoscope is actually a long, thin tube to which a small camera is attached at one end. This camera transmits or sends pictures onto a monitor screen that enables the surgeon to view diseased or damaged organ tissues without opening a body cavity. The surgeon literally operates on the patient by viewing the monitor and manipulating his or her instruments without actually accessing the specific organ or tissue through a large incision, as is common through incision surgical procedures.
Laparoscopic is a very common procedure used in diagnostic surgeries that accesses soft tissues of the body, mainly the upper and lower regions of the abdomen. Laparoscopy is utilized mainly to:
Determine or diagnose a condition or cause of pain or injury
Operating, repairing or removing diseased or damaged organs and tissues
Treatment for gynecological repair, such as removing ovarian cysts and masses, evaluating and treating endometriosis, and in some cases, treating ectopic pregnancy
Single port entry laparoscopic surgery is a relatively new technique through which a laparoscopic surgery is performed through one port of entry. This type of procedure must be performed by an experienced surgeon capable of making very precise movements.
Laparoscopic surgeries enable surgeons to diagnose, treat and operate a variety of abdominal conditions and procedures including:
Cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal)
Appendectomy (removal of the appendix)
Laparoscopically Assisted Vaginal Hysterectomy (LAVH)
Bariatric gastric bypass surgeries
Laparoscopic surgical procedures are performed on simple surgical procedures, and was not meant to be used for complex abdominal surgery because of the inability of the surgeon to place his or her hand into the human body. However, hand access devices in laparoscopic surgery enable surgeons to perform a variety of functions, such as pancreatectomy and liver resection procedures. Advancements in technology are increasing capabilities of single port entry techniques for more complex surgical procedures.
How is Laparoscopic Surgery Performed?
Most cases of laparoscopic surgery occur in the upper or lower regions of the abdomen. For such a procedure, the individual is placed under a general anesthetic that puts the patient to sleep. The abdomen is filled with carbon dioxide gas that adds space and lifts the abdominal wall to give the surgeon a better view of the internal organs.
Very small incisions, about 1/2 inch, or 1 cm in length, are made near the belly button. For gynecological, colon or exploratory procedures, two additional incisions might be made in the lower abdomen. The number and location of incisions will be determined by the type of surgery necessary.
Following the surgical procedure, the instruments are removed, and gas is removed from the body cavity, or absorbed and processed by the body during the hours following surgery. In most cases, only one self-dissolving stitch to close the incision is necessary, or the doctor may choose a steristrip, which is much like a piece of tape that holds the sides of the incision together during the healing process.
What are the Benefits of Laparoscopic Surgeries?
Individuals undergoing laparoscopic surgeries have shortened recovery times as well as less postoperative pain. Smaller incisions decrease the chance of complications such as infection and offer decreased mortality rates. The fiber-optic instruments and video cameras attached to the laparoscope enable surgeons to view the surgical area on a monitor while utilizing special instruments that avoid surrounding tissue damage of the surgical area.
Obtaining Laparoscopic Surgeries
Laparoscopic surgeries should be performed by a experienced surgeon trained in minimally invasive surgical procedures. Laparoscopic surgeons should be familiar with a variety of procedures utilizing laparoscopic technique and equipment in his or her field of study or specialty. Surgeons who perform laparoscopic surgeries should be board-eligible or certified practicing surgeons, Residents or Fellows in accredited programs including gynecology, urology, and oncology, or are board eligible and certified practicing gynecologists, urologists, or other physicians who engage in and perform laparoscopic procedures.