Laparoscopic surgery is a minimal-access surgical technique that involves insufflation of the abdominal cavity with carbon dioxide to allow diagnosis and treatment of intra-abdominal pathologies.
Laparoscopic surgery can be described as “keyhole surgery”. It is also important to break down the steps of the operation.
For general surgical laparoscopy this would include:
- The procedure is performed under general anesthesia.
- Once asleep, a small cut is usually made in the region of the belly button (umbilicus).
- A small plastic sheath is inserted into the abdomen and gas is pumped into the abdominal cavity. (The gas used is carbon dioxide because it is highly soluble and rapidly excreted by the body).
- The gas pumped into the abdomen elevates the front of your abdominal wall away from the internal organs. This creates the necessary space for us to obtain good views and perform the operation.
- Further small incisions of 15 - 20mm are made through in which we place further plastic sheaths. Through these plastic sheaths, we insert our instruments.
- Most often two further incisions are made, however, this number can vary depending on the pathology identified and the intended operation. The location of these incisions depends on the indications for the procedure and also the pathology identified.
Conversion to an open procedure is often wrongly included as a risk when patients are being consented for laparoscopic operations. This is not a risk and should be included as part of the standard operation (i.e laparoscopic procedure ± conversion to open). The percentage rate of conversion depends on the procedure being undertaken and the experience of the surgeon performing the operation. The important point to emphasize is that if the operation cannot be safely completed laparoscopically, it will be necessary to convert to open.