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Laparoscopy and Laparoscopic Surgery

laparoscopic surgery

Laparoscopy is a procedure to look inside your abdomen by using a laparoscope. A laparoscope is like a thin telescope with a light source. It is used to light up and magnify the structures inside the abdomen. A laparoscope is passed into the abdomen through a small incision (cut) in the skin.

Some common conditions which can be seen by laparoscopy include:

  • Endometriosis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Ovarian cyst
  • Appendicitis

What is laparoscopic surgery?

In addition simply to looking inside, a doctor can use fine instruments which are also passed into the abdomen through another small incision in the skin. These instruments are used to cut, trim, biopsy, grab, etc, inside the abdomen. This laparoscopic surgery is sometimes called 'keyhole surgery' or 'minimally invasive surgery'.

Some commonly performed operations include:

  • Removal of the gallbladder. This is sometimes called a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, or 'lap choly' for short.
  • Removal of the appendix.
  • Removal of patches of endometriosis.
  • Removal of parts of the intestines.
  • Female sterilisation.
  • Treating ectopic pregnancy.
  • Taking a biopsy (small sample) of various structures inside the abdomen.

In general, compared with traditional 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.

How is it done?

Laparoscopy and laparoscopic surgery are usually done under general anaesthesia. The skin over the abdomen is cleaned. The surgeon or gynaecologist then makes a small incision (cut) about 1-2 cm long 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. The surgeon or gynaecologist then looks down the laparoscope or looks at pictures on a TV monitor connected to the laparoscope.

After a laparoscopy?

You may feel a little sore around the incisions. You may have some pain in your shoulder tip. This is caused by the gas which had been pumped inside irritating the diaphragm which has the same nerve supply as the shoulder tip.

Are there any possible complications from a laparoscopy?

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.
Complications that may occur are:

  • Accidental damage to structures inside the abdomen, such as the intestines or certain blood vessels.
  • As with any operation, there is a small risk of complications of anaesthesia.
  • Occasionally, the incision becomes infected which may require a course of antibiotics.

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