Laparoscopic also known as keyhole surgery is performed through small incision’s in the abdominal wall using special cylindrical ports through which instruments and a camera are passed. Carbon dioxide gas is used to inflate the abdominal cavity and create a space for the surgeon to work in all of which can be watched on a flat screen monitor. Amazing advances in technology now allow blood vessels to be sealed, pieces of bowel to be joined together, and organs to be removed through small keyhole size incision.
Such have been the advances, that in the hands of a well trained laparoscopic surgeon most of the operations performed by traditional open techniques through large incisions can now be performed laparoscopically.
The most obvious advantage of laparoscopic surgery is much smaller incisions and hence less tissue disruption compared to open or traditional surgery. The benefits of this are clear and well proven in clinical trials, and include less pain and analgesic requirements, faster recovery and hence earlier return to both work and social activities including sports.
If you have a busy lifestyle and cant afford to take long periods of time away from work or other activities then a laparoscopic approach may save you significant amounts of time in terms of recovery. Obviously smaller incisions mean smaller scars and a much better cosmetic result.
Many of the complications associated with open surgery such as wound infections, bruising and hernias are greatly reduced if not eliminated by a laparoscopic approach. New research also suggest that traditional open surgery may suppress the immune system compared with laparoscopic surgery.
From a surgeons point of view there are many situations where a laparoscopic approach results in improved access and better visualization of areas of the body
1. All surgery be it traditional open surgery or laparoscopic have associated risks or potential complications. Whist a laparoscopic approach may greatly reduce some of the risks associated with open surgery some of the risks associated with open surgery are still possible with a laparoscopic approach.
There are some risks, and complications which are specific to laparoscopic surgery which mainly relate to the gas used to create a working space for the surgeon to operate in. Gas may escape from the abdominal compartment mainly into the tissues under the skin.
This is normally more of a curiosity than a complication as it usually disappears within hours of the surgery. Gas also causes temporary stretching of the abdominal wall and diaphragm which may lead to some mild abdominal discomfort or referred pain in the shoulder region. All possible complications relating to your specific surgery will be discussed with you prior to your surgery.
2. From a surgeons point of view laparoscopic surgery greatly reduces tactile sense ie the ability to feel tissues, whilst in most instances this is not important in some situations a special port through which a hand can be placed maybe employed to eliminate this problem. Laparoscopic surgery for many operations is generally technically more difficult to perform than open surgery. For this reason if you are contemplating a laparoscopic approach you should make sure your surgeon, like Michael is well qualified and has specific training and experience in laparoscopic surgery.
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Dr Michael France
Mr Michael France is an Australian and Internationally trained general surgeon. He specialises in laparoscopic and minimally invasive surgery of the abdomen and gastrointestinal tract. His specialty interest is Obesity Surgery.
He was born and educated in New Zealand, completing his medical degree in Auckland New Zealand winning the Sir Carrick Robertson Prize for the highest overall marks in surgery.