Laparoscopy: Reasons, Risks, and Benefits

  • Post last modified:January 29, 2023
  • Post category:Surgery
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Laparoscopic surgery is a simple, low-invasive diagnostic procedure recommended for an abdominal and pelvic examination. In addition, such an operation is also used for body parts like knees or other difficult-to-reach spaces. This type of procedure is also called keyhole surgery due to a small incision requirement. Thus, doctors use a laparoscope, a small tube, to explore the inner organs and tissues reducing the need for large incisions.

The laparoscope also has a video camera and lights on top of it to help doctors track their movements once inside. Often, the surgical instrument is also used to pick up biopsy samples or hold operations. Overall, this type of procedure is a low-risk one, with minimal recovery time and significant benefits.

When Laparoscopy Is Recommended

This minimally invasive surgery is often recommended for a variety of reasons, starting from forming a precise diagnosis. The instrument helps identify the abnormality in the pelvic or other closed spaces whenever other common diagnostic tools (i.e. MRI scans or ultrasound) are impossible or failed to give reliable results. Usually, any invasive methods are applied only as the last resort or when a sample of tissue is needed.

Typically, these are the organs where doctors would prefer to use laparoscopy:

  • Gallbladder;
  • stomach;
  • appendix;
  • pancreas;
  • spleen;
  • liver;
  • reproductive organs;
  • colon;
  • pelvic.

The given diagnostic method allows doctors to detect any abnormalities, such as any masses or tumors. The accuracy of such diagnosis allows doctors to choose and start the treatment right upon the operation. Also, doctors rely on laparoscopy to track the reaction to treatment or the exact progress of certain diseases, including cancer.

What Are the Risks?

First of all, as in most cases of low-invasive operations vs open operations, the risks of laparoscopy are minimal. Even the most common risks are considered rare occurrences. These risks include infection, bleeding, a blood clot, or organ damage. The former risk will take several days to show its signs. Thus patients should pay attention to any undesirable symptoms, such as:

  • Fevers;
  • redness;
  • swelling;
  • increasing abdominal or pelvic pain;
  • vomiting;
  • shortness of breath, etc.;

Don’t hesitate to contact a healthcare facility upon noticing any of such symptoms. However, once again, these are rare and not limited to this type of operation but having an invasive treatment in general.

Organ damage is also a rare occurrence. It usually happens when the tube punctures an organ which leads to inner bleeding. Additional surgery is recommended in this scenario.

How Is the Surgery Performed?

The surgery, as per usual, requires general anesthesia. Hence patients should not worry about pain or other inconveniences. A surgeon makes a few small incisions in the abdomen, normally above the belly button. It should be just large enough to insert the laparoscope inside. The sizes of the tubes, though, will vary depending on the needed procedure (treatment, biopsy, observation, etc.) using special surgical tools.

Next, the surgeon uses a special tube called a cannula to release the carbon dioxide gas, which eases the way for the tube and improves vision. The gas will be released by the end of the operation. After the inflation, doctors are ready to use the laparoscope.

Once finished, doctors will apply stitches or special surgical tape on the incisions. Usually, an operation doesn’t last long and patients can be released a few hours after the procedure. However, an overnight stay may be recommended.

The Benefits of Laparoscopy

The general laparoscopy benefits have been already outlined. Its advantages over traditional surgery are obvious due to a small cut incision, time, and high diagnostic value. Here are the common advantages to consider:

  • Little to no scarring (external and internal);
  • fast recovery and healing time (up to 3 weeks);
  • less painful sensations;
  • less bleeding;
  • fewer costs;
  • shorter hospital time;
  • precise diagnosis and instant treatment.

All these benefits indicate quite progress in the medical field. In the past, doctors would have to make a large opening in the abdomen in order to see the issue (if it was even there and visible in the first place). Needless to say, such a method was rarely used for diagnosis.

How to Prepare for Laparoscopy?

First of all, patients should treat this operation, although small, like any other. Hence, it’s best to ask for direct recommendations and directions from the doctor. Of course, it is essential to follow such guidance for faster and better recovery and successful operation. As usual, it’s best not to eat or drink for several hours (around 6-8) before the operations.

Also, inform your doctor about any medications, prescribed or over-the-counter that you’ve been taking for the past several weeks. A doctor may advise you to stop taking or replace certain medications before and after the operation. Such information is particularly important if patients take any drugs affecting blood work, such as blood thinners (which may increase bleeding) or medication that may lead to blood clots.

Lastly, your doctors should be informed of pregnancy, as it causes certain changes in how the operation is held.

Also, make sure to have someone drive you home, especially if you are not staying overnight in the hospital. Driving can be a challenging task for people after anesthesia and with new scars on the abdomen.

How Does Recovery Go?

A patient can be released home after the operation within the next several hours. Such a decision will depend on their vital signs and general well-being. A patient may feel some discomfort or minor pain in the area of the operation. Other side effects may include bloating or shoulder pain due to the usage of gas during the operation. However, any physical symptoms should wear off within the two following days. For better recovery, patients should return to light physical activity and have plenty of sleep.

Final Thoughts

Laparoscopy is a low-risk, effective procedure that helps patients avoid long-term recovery or hospitalization. It is extremely useful for diagnostic purposes and treatment of the organs in the pelvic and other closed areas.