What is laparoscopic surgery?
Laparoscopic surgery is surgery in the abdomen using a laparoscope. The Laparoscope is a long, thin fiber-optic camera, roughly the diameter of a pen, about a foot in length. During laparoscopic surgery, the doctor makes a few small cuts in the belly that are much smaller than cuts for open surgery. He or she puts long, thin tools into the belly through these openings. The doctor can look at the inside of your belly with the camera, and the image appears on a screen, so the doctor knows where to cut and what to remove. Then he or she uses the tools in the other small incisions to do the surgery. This is also called “minimally invasive surgery.”
What surgeries can be done with a laparoscope?
- Laparoscopic cholecystectomy - Removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy is the medical term) is very commonly done using a laparoscope. In most cases the surgery is started laparoscopically; however, there are certain circumstances in which the surgeon will decide that it is not safe to continue with the laparoscope, for risk of injuring surrounding organs, and may need to change to an open surgery.
- Laparoscopic appendectomy - Removal of the appendix, mostly for appendicitis (inflamed appendix) is commonly done with the laparoscope, but in some circumstances may be done as open surgery, depending on various conditions.
- Ventral hernia repair - Some ventral/abdominal wall hernias can be repaired using the laparoscopic approach, usually placing a piece of mesh up against the abdominal wall from the inside. The surgeon will decide if this approach is appropriate and safe for you, or if you need to have an open hernia repair.
- Nissen fundoplication - Surgery to fix Hiatal hernias to prevent gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).
- Colon resection/Colectomy - Removal of a part of the colon (large intestine) for colon cancer or other diseases of the colon can sometimes be done partially with a laparoscope. The surgery will be started with the laparoscope, and then a small incision (about 4 inches long) will be made in the abdominal wall to bring the colon outside the abdomen to complete the removal and reconnection of the colon. While this is still considered an open procedure, using the laparoscope at the beginning allows for a smaller incision than a traditional open surgery.
- Splenectomy - Surgical removal of the spleen can be done with laparoscopic surgery.
- Adrenal gland surgery - The adrenal gland is an organ that sits on top of the kidney on each side. Adrenal masses or tumors can be removed with laparoscopic surgery.
Learn more about laparoscopic surgery.