Simplifying Laparoscopic Surgeries

Submitted on March 27, 2012
The idea of surgery can be scary, but laparoscopic surgery really isn't. It's also called minimally invasive surgery!
Simplifying Laparoscopic Surgeries

A laparoscopic procedure is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that has gained popularity in recent years. It is used as an alternative to the older "open" surgical techniques which involved making larger incisions. Nowadays, many surgeries are performed using laparoscopic surgery due to the many advantages that this procedure offers over conventional types of surgeries.

In laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon makes small incisions measuring just a few millimeters. Each incision is known as a "port". The small incisions allow for the insertion of a laparoscope and special surgical instruments known as "trochars" into the body. The laparoscope is a fiber-optic instrument that transmits images from within the body to a video monitor. Using the laparoscope, the surgeon can view the inside of the body, seeing a close up image of the area to be operated upon.

Laparoscopic surgery was initially used in cases of gynecologic surgery and gall bladder surgery. As more advanced techniques were developed, its use extended into other areas of surgery such as intestinal surgery, orthopedic surgery and cardiac surgery.

The advantages of this technique derive mainly from the smaller sized incisions that are required. Some of the advantages that this technique has over conventional open surgical techniques include:

  • Quicker recovery period owing to the smaller size of the incisions
  • Less pain owing to the smaller size of the incisions
  • Shorter hospital stay ensures that the patient can return to normal activities and work a lot sooner
  • Lower rates of infection
  • Lower recurrence rate
  • Aesthetically pleasing since scarring is kept to a minimum

The shorter hospital stay also puts less of a strain on our overburdened Medicare system! Not all surgeries can be accomplished using laparoscopic techniques. This is because the human hand can perform intricate movements during conventional surgeries that are difficult to reproduce with laparoscopic instruments.

Advances in instrumentation in recent years have led to the development of hand-access devices. These devices allow the surgeon to place a hand into the body cavity, thereby enabling him/her to perform a wide range of functions that were previously not possible. The incision required in such procedures is larger than the incision required for standard laparoscopic procedures but smaller than the incision that would be used in a conventional surgery. These advanced laparoscopic techniques can now be used to perform complex procedures such as the Whipple operation, distal pancreatectomy and liver resection, procedures that were previously beyond the scope of standard laparoscopic techniques.

The latest development in the field comes in the form of Robot assisted surgery. Robotic systems such as the Da Vinci System have been developed - these can enhance a surgeon's capability, allowing him or her to operate in a much less invasive manner. The system allows for increased visualization and precision as compared to standard laparoscopic techniques. In this technique, the surgeon is not in direct physical contact with the patient and instead operates from a remote location using a computer console with a three dimensional view of the operating zone.

Some of the procedures for which laparoscopic surgery is used include:

  • Bile duct reconstruction
  • Distal pancreatectomy
  • Laparoscopic cholecystectomy
  • Laparoscopic adrenalectomy
  • Laparoscopic appendectomy
  • Laparoscopic splenectomy
  • Laparoscopic colon surgery
  • Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
  • Laparoscopic nephrectomy
  • Laparoscopic inguinal and ventral hernia repair

Apart from these there are several more types of surgeries where laparoscopic techniques are used including the treatment of ectopic pregnancy, aortic valve replacement and coronary bypass surgery.