Laparoscopy is an operation performed in the abdomen or pelvis through small incisions (usually 0.5–1.5 cm) with the aid of a camera. The laparoscope aids diagnosis or therapeutic interventions with a few small cuts in the abdomen. There are a number of advantages to the patient with laparoscopic surgery versus an open procedure. These include reduced pain due to smaller incisions and hemorrhaging, and shorter recovery time.
Laparoscopic surgery, also called minimally invasive surgery (MIS), bandaid surgery, or keyhole surgery, is a modern surgical technique in which operations are performed through small incisions (usually 0.5–1.5 cm) 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 and recovery times are shorter. 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.
Laparoscopic surgery includes operations within the abdominal or pelvic cavities, whereas keyhole surgery performed on the thoracic or chest cavity is called thoracoscopic surgery. Specific surgical instruments used in a laparoscopic surgery include: forceps, scissors, probes, dissectors, hooks, retractors and more. Laparoscopic and thoracoscopic surgery belong to the broader field of endoscopy.
There are two types of laparoscope:
- a telescopic rod lens system, usually connected to a video camera (single chip or three chip)
- a digital laparoscope where a miniature digital video camera is placed at the end of the laparoscope, eliminating the rod lens system
The mechanism mentioned in the second type is mainly used to improve the image quality of flexible endoscopes, replacing traditional fiberscopes. Nevertheless, laparoscopes are rigid endoscopes. The rigidity is required in clinical practice. The rod-lens based laparoscopes dominate overwhelmingly in practice, due to their fine optical resolution (50 µm typically, dependant on the aperture size used in the objective lens), and the image quality can be better than that of the digital camera if necessary. The second type of laparoscope is very rare in the laparoscope market and in hospitals.
Also attached is a fiber optic cable system connected to a "cold" light source (halogen or xenon), to illuminate the operative field, which is inserted through a 5 mm or 10 mm cannula or trocar.
The abdomen is usually insufflated 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. It is also non-flammable, which is important because electrosurgical devices are commonly used in laparoscopic procedures.
Surgeons perform laparoscopic stomach surgery.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the most common laparoscopic procedure performed. In this procedure, 5–10 mm diameter instruments (graspers, scissors, clip applier) can be introduced by the surgeon into the abdomen through trocars (hollow tubes with a seal to keep the CO
2 from leaking).
In certain advanced laparoscopic procedures, where the size of the specimen being removed would be too large to pull out through a trocar site (as would be done with a gallbladder), an incision larger than 10 mm must be made. The most common of these procedures are removal of all or part of the colon (colectomy), or removal of the kidney (nephrectomy). Some surgeons perform these procedures completely laparoscopically, making the larger incision toward the end of the procedure for specimen removal, or, in the case of a colectomy, to also prepare the remaining healthy bowel to be reconnected (create an anastomosis). Many other surgeons feel that since they will have to make a larger incision for specimen removal anyway, they might as well use this incision to have their hand in the operative field during the procedure to aid as a retractor, dissector, and to be able to feel differing tissue densities (palpate), as they would in open surgery. This technique is called hand-assist laparoscopy. Since they will still be working with scopes and other laparoscopic instruments, CO2 will have to be maintained in the patient's abdomen, so a device known as a hand access port (a sleeve with a seal that allows passage of the hand) must be used. Surgeons who choose this hand-assist technique feel it reduces operative time significantly versus the straight laparoscopic approach. It also gives them more options in dealing with unexpected adverse events (e.g. uncontrolled bleeding) that may otherwise require creating a much larger incision and converting to a fully open surgical procedure.