Laparoscopic surgical techniques were first developed over a hundred years ago by surgeons in Europe, although the techniques only became commonplace in operating theatres around the world in the 1970s. 1981 saw the very first laparoscopic appendectomy (removal of the appendix) in German, although today laparoscopic procedures are very commonly used in a wide range of surgeries (see below).
What is laparoscopic surgery?
Unlike conventional 'open surgery' (medical term: 'laparotomy'), where a large incision is made to the skin to allow the surgeon and his team to visualise and operate directly on internal tissue and organs, laparoscopic surgery involves several much smaller incisions made in the skin (called 'ports'), through which specialised surgical instruments are inserted into the body cavity to operate on internal tissue and organs.
The surgeon and their team view the internal operating area via a small video camera and high intensity light, with real time images appearing on a large screen.
Laparoscopic surgery is also referred to as 'minimally invasive' surgery, or colloquially as 'keyhole' surgery.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of laparoscopic surgery compared to open surgery?
The major benefit of laparoscopic surgery is overall less trauma to the body – smaller incisional scars heal more quickly and much tissue that would have been cut through – creating more trauma – can often be moved to one side using laparoscopic techniques. In summary the benefits of laparoscopic techniques are:
- Procedure completed in shorter time.
- Faster post-operative recovery.
As a guide, for a procedure where open surgery would require a seven-day hospital stay and a further recovery period of six weeks after discharge, the laparoscopic equivalent procedure would require only 2-3 days in hospital and full recovery would take around 2-3 weeks.
- Reduced post-operative pain levels.
- Much smaller scars from entry point incisions (which heal faster).
- Less risk of adhesions (scar tissue that develops in the body after trauma to that tissue / organ).
- Less risk of infection.
Common procedures conducted using laparoscopic surgery
Procedures involving the following organs and tissue are now very commonly conducted using laparoscopic techniques:
Laparoscopic Surgery – Experience
Dr Silverman specialises in laparoscopic surgical procedures. In her career as a surgeon she has conducted over two thousand laparoscopic surgical procedures.