Laparoscopy or minimally invasive surgery is a surgical technique performed through small incisions. By inserting a laparoscope through one of the incisions, the surgeon can see the affected area projected by a camera onto a television monitor. Most applicable for abdominal or pelvic surgery, with laparoscopic surgery, the abdomen is usually inflated with carbon dioxide gas or nitrous oxide to raise the abdominal wall above the internal organs to create a working and viewing space.
Laparoscopy has many advantages, including:
- Reduced hemorrhaging, reducing the need for blood transfusions.
- Smaller incisions, reduced pain, shorter recovery time, and less scarring.
- Less pain and less pain medication.
- Hospital stay is shorter, often performed as an outpatient procedure.
- Reduced risk of infection.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy or gall bladder surgery is the most common laparoscopic procedure performed. Over one million cholecystectomies are performed in the U.S. annually. More than 96% are performed laparoscopically. An open cholecystectomy requires a minimum 20 cm incision. In the laparoscopic procedure, four incisions of .5 – 1 cm are all that’s needed for removal of a gallbladder. The gall bladder, similar to a small balloon that stores and releases bile, is usually removed by suctioning out the bile and drawing the deflated gallbladder through the incision at the navel.
For inguinal hernia repair performed with laparoscopy, the hernia defect or hole is covered with mesh from within the abdomen and held in place with small surgical staples as a patch. Most people who have laparoscopic hernia repair are able to go home the same day. Recovery time is about 1 to 2 weeks. You most likely can return to light activity after 1 to 2 weeks. Strenuous exercise should wait until after 4 weeks of recovery. Studies have found that people have less pain after laparoscopic hernia repair than after open hernia surgery.
There are many things to think about when deciding if you should have inguinal hernia repair surgery, such as whether your hernia is incarcerated or strangulated and whether you have other conditions that need to be addressed before hernia repair surgery is appropriate. The procedure may not be best for patients who have had previous abdominal surgery or other medical conditions. Only your surgeon can determine whether laparoscopic hernia repair is right for you.
Laparoscopy is the most common procedure used to diagnose and remove mild to moderate endometriosis. In fact, this is the only way endometriosis can be diagnosed with certainty. If an endometriosis cyst is found growing on an ovary during a diagnostic procedure, it is likely to be removed at that time. If endometriosis or scar tissue needs to be removed, the surgeon will use one of various techniques, including cutting and removing tissue (excision) or destroying it with a laser beam or electric current (electrocautery). The skill of the surgeon is critical when laparoscopy is used to treat endometriosis that is causing infertility.
This minimally invasive surgical technique has been adopted by many surgical sub-specialties; gastrointestinal, gynecologic and urologic, including surgery for Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, cancer, rectal prolapse and severe constipation.
Laparoscopy has been used for bariatric (gastric sleeve, gastric bypass and lap band) surgery for many years. Laparoscopy for bariatric surgery is the same procedure as open surgery and produces similar excess weight loss results.
Laparoscopic surgery is not always an option for all surgeries, but it is certainly worth discussing with your surgeon. If laparoscopy is appropriate for you, your surgeon can provide counseling about the procedure and a referral, if necessary.