Laparoscopy involves inserting an optical instrument with a light and a camera (laparoscope) into the abdomen via a small incision in the skin. A laparoscope can be used for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. During laparoscopic surgery, specialist surgical instruments are also inserted into the abdomen via further small skin incisions along with the laparoscope.
Abdominal endoscopy, known in medical terms as laparoscopy, can be used for diagnosis purposes or for surgical procedures. The method was originally used for diagnostic purposes to gain a view of the abdomen via a camera. However, the increasingly better camera optics as well as the development of small, specialist surgical instruments have seen the method used more often for surgical procedures. Nowadays, laparoscopic technology is preferred for a wide variety of abdominal surgery. This surgical method is generally less hard on the tissue. Furthermore, the wounds heal more quickly than after open operations, and the recovery period is shorter on the whole.
What preparations are carried out before the procedure?
Laparoscopy is performed under general anaesthetic. Patients must have an empty stomach for the procedure.
All the usual pre-operative assessments are carried out, such as a blood test, blood pressure measurement and an ECG. All blood-thinning medication must be discontinued prior to surgery.
How is the operation performed?
A laparoscope is an optical instrument which is inserted into the abdomen through the abdominal wall via a small incision in the skin. The instrument is equipped with a light and a camera which can transmit images to a screen. The abdomen is first inflated with CO2 before the laparoscope is inserted. This enlarges the abdomen and enables a better view of the abdominal organs. Then the laparoscope is inserted. Small tissue samples can be taken via a separate channel on the laparoscope if necessary. During purely diagnostic laparoscopic procedures, which take around 30 minutes, the CO2 is aspirated after the examination is over, the laparoscope is removed and the small skin wound is sutured.
Further small incisions in the skin in addition to those for the laparoscope are also made for surgical procedures. This allows other surgical instruments to be inserted into the abdomen via these incisions. The entire operation takes place under camera imaging. The abdominal wall does not need to be opened. Tissue which is removed during the surgery can also be removed from the abdomen with the endoscope.
What is the success rate of this procedure?
Laparoscopic technology has been used in a wide variety of abdominal surgery. Thus, appendectomies or gallbladder removals can be carried out almost exclusively with this method nowadays. The success rates are the same as in other surgeries. At the same time, however, procedures carried out with this method are normally less stressful and gentler on the body.
What are the possible complications and risks of this procedure?
The complications and risks of laparoscopic procedures are the same as those of open operations. As with all surgery, the operation may occasionally lead to post-operative bleeding, nerve damage or infections.
What happens after the operation?
The follow-up treatment depends on the operation which has been carried out. Patients usually have less pain after laparoscopic surgery than after an open operation. The healing process is also shorter as the stomach muscles did not have to be severed.