Laparoscopic surgery, also called minimally invasive surgery or keyhole surgery, is a modern surgical technique in which operations are performed far from their location through small incisions elsewhere in the body.
There are a number of advantages to the patient with laparoscopic surgery versus the more common, open procedure.
Pain and hemorrhaging are reduced due to smaller incisions (less scaring) and improved speed of recovery times.
The key element in laparoscopic surgery is the use of a laparoscope, a long fiber optic cable system which allows viewing of the affected area by snaking the cable from a more distant, but more easily accessible location.
There are two types of laparoscope:
- a telescopic rod lens system, that is usually connected to a video camera (single chip or three chip), or
- a digital laparoscope where the charge-coupled device is placed at the end of the laparoscope.
Also attached is a fiber optic cable system connected to a "cold" light source (halogen or xenon), to illuminate the operative field. The abdomen is usually blown on with carbon dioxide gas. This elevates the abdominal wall above the internal organs to create a working and viewing space. CO2 is used because it is common to the human body and can be absorbed by tissue and removed by the respiratory system.
Laparoscopic surgery includes operations within the abdominal or pelvic cavities, whereas keyhole surgery performed on the thoracic or chest cavity is called thoracoscopic surgery.
The risks associated with laparoscopic surgery are:
- occasionally normal tissues can be accidentally injured during a keyhole operation. This is rare but can occur one in every five hundred operations.
- in most cases the problem is easily correctable but risk is greater for those who have previously had abdominal surgery.
Laparoscopic and thoracoscopic surgery belong to the broader field of endoscopy.
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