What Is Laparoscopic Surgery?
Laparoscopic or “minimally invasive” surgery is a specialized technique for performing surgery. In the past, this technique was commonly used for gynecologic surgery and for gall bladder surgery. Over the last 10 years the use of this technique has expanded into intestinal surgery. In traditional “open” surgery the surgeon uses a single incision to enter into the abdomen. Laparoscopic surgery uses several 0.5-1cm incisions. Each incision is called a “port.”
At each port a tubular instrument known as a trochar is inserted. Specialized instruments and a special camera known as a laparoscope are passed through the trochars during the procedure. At the beginning of the procedure, the abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide gas to provide a working and viewing space for the surgeon. The laparoscope transmits images from the abdominal cavity to high-resolution video monitors in the operating room. During the operation the surgeon watches detailed images of the abdomen on the monitor. This system allows the surgeon to perform the same operations as traditional surgery but with smaller incisions.
In certain situations a surgeon may choose to use a special type of port that is large enough to insert a hand. When a hand port is used the surgical technique is called “hand assisted” laparoscopy. The incision required for the hand port is larger than the other laparoscopic incisions, but is usually smaller than the incision required for traditional surgery.
Why It Is Done ?
Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is the best method of treating gallstones that cause symptoms, unless there is a reason that the surgery should not be done.
Laparoscopic surgery is used most commonly when no factors are present that may complicate the surgery.
How Well It Works ?
Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is safe and effective. Surgery gets rid of gallstones located in the gallbladder. It does not remove stones in the common bile duct. Gallstones can form in the common bile duct years after the gallbladder is removed, although this is rare.
What Are The Benefits Of Laparoscopy?
There are a number of advantages to the patient with laparoscopic surgery versus an open procedure.
- Reduced bleeding , which reduces the chance of needing a blood transfusion.
- Smaller incision, which reduces pain and shortens recovery time.
- Reduced exposure of internal organs to possible external contaminants thereby reduced risk of acquiring infections.
- Less pain, leading to less pain medication needed.
- Although procedure times are usually slightly longer, hospital stay is less, and often with a same day discharge which leads to a faster return to everyday living.
How Safe Is Laparoscopic Surgery?
Laparoscopic surgery is as safe as traditional open surgery. At the beginning of a laparoscopic operation the laparoscope is inserted through a small incision near the belly button (umbilicus). The surgeon initially inspects the abdomen to determine whether laparoscopic surgery may be safely performed. If there is a large amount of inflammation or if the surgeon encounters other factors that prevent a clear view of the structures the surgeon may need to make a larger incision in order to complete the operation safely.
Any intestinal surgery is associated with certain risks such as complications related anesthesia and bleeding or infectious complications. The risk of any operation is determined in part by the nature of the specific operation. An individual’s general heath and other medical conditions are also factors that affect the risk of any operation. You should discuss with your surgeon your individual risk for any operation.
What To Expect After Surgery ?
You may have gallbladder surgery as an outpatient, or you may stay 1 or 2 days in the hospital.
After surgery you may have:
- Pain in your shoulder and belly that lasts 24 to 72 hours (from gas used to inflate the abdomen during surgery). It may last as long as a week.
- Widespread muscle aches from anesthesia.
- Minor inflammation or drainage at the surgical wound sites.
- Loss of appetite and some nausea.
Most people can return to their normal activities in 7 to 10 days. People who have laparoscopic gallbladder surgery are sore for about a week. But in 2 to 3 weeks they have much less discomfort than people who have open surgery. No special diets or other precautions are needed after surgery.