Laparoscopic Surgery

Definition

Laparoscopy is a type of surgical procedure in which a small incision is made, usually in the navel, through which a viewing tube (laparoscope) is inserted. The viewing tube has a small camera on the eyepiece. This allows the doctor to examine the abdominal and pelvic organs on a video monitor connected to the tube. Other small incisions can be made to insert instruments to perform procedures. Laparoscopy can be done to diagnose conditions or to perform certain types of operations. It is less invasive than regular open abdominal surgery (laparotomy).

Purpose

A laparoscopy may be done to find the cause of symptoms such as abdominal pain, pelvic pain, or swelling of the abdomen or pelvic region. Or, it may be done if a previous test such as a scan has identified a problem within the abdomen or pelvis. A laparoscopy enables a doctor to see clearly inside your abdomen. Some common conditions which can be seen by laparoscopy include: endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and ovarian cyst.

How is it done?

Laparoscopy and laparoscopic surgery are usually done whilst you are asleep under general anaesthesia. The skin over the abdomen is cleaned. A small incision (cut) about 1cm long is made near to the navel (belly button). Some gas is injected through the cut to 'blow out' the abdominal wall slightly. This makes it easier to see the internal organs with the laparoscope which is gently pushed through the incision into the abdominal cavity. Your reproductive organs are assessed by looking at pictures on a TV monitor connected to the laparoscope.

If you have a surgical procedure, one or more separate small incisions are made in the abdominal skin. These allow thin instruments to be pushed into the abdominal cavity. Once the procedure is completed, the laparoscope and other instruments are removed. The incisions are stitched and dressings are applied.

What are the risks of laparoscopic surgery?

There may be some minor bleeding or bruising around the skin incisions. Otherwise, in most cases a laparoscopy just to look inside' goes without any problem. Possible problems which may occur include the following:

  • internal bleeding
  • injury to internal organs - bowel, bladder, blood vessels
  • infection
  • hernia at the incision site
  • complications of anaesthesia

If you have laparoscopic surgery, the risk of complications may increase if you are overweight and depending on what operation is performed.

What are the benefits of laparoscopic surgery?

In general, compared with traditional open abdominal surgery, with laparoscopic surgery there is usually:

  • Less pain following the procedure.
  • Less risk of complications.
  • A shorter hospital stay and a quicker recovery.
  • A much smaller scar.
 
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