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What Is Laparoscopic Surgery?

What is Laparoscopic Surgery?

Table of Contents

Laparoscopic surgery uses a thin rod with an attached camera to visualize the abdominal and pelvic cavities through small keyhole incisions. This minimally invasive surgical method is associated with faster recovery and better patient outcomes.

This method is used to diagnose or treat a number of different diseases and conditions. The advantage of laparoscopy is that only a small incision is required. This is why laparoscopy is also known as “keyhole surgery.”

What is a laparoscopy?

Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure in the abdominal and pelvic areas. Instead of the 6- to 12-inch incisions required for open abdominal surgery, laparoscopic surgery uses two to four small incisions of half an inch or less. One is for the camera, and the other is for the surgical instrument.

It is a minimally invasive alternative to laparotomy. It is usually done for diagnostic purposes, to look for problems that imaging tests have been unable to detect. During the examination, the surgeon may take tissue samples for biopsy. They may also be able to treat minor problems during the laparoscopy, for example, remove lesions or blockages they find during the exam.

abdominal laparoscopy

Why is an abdominal laparoscopy performed?

Laparoscopy is used to identify and diagnose pelvic or abdominal pain sources. It is usually done when non-invasive methods are unable to detect. In many cases, abdominal problems can be diagnosed with imaging techniques such as:

  • Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the body.
  • A CT scan is a set of special X-rays that take cross-sectional images of the body.
  • An MRI Scan uses magnets and radio waves to produce body images.

What surgeries are performed laparoscopically?

Today, many common surgeries can be performed laparoscopically. Whether the patient is a candidate for laparoscopic surgery depends on his condition’s complexity. Some complex conditions may require open surgery. However, laparoscopic surgery is the preferred default method for a growing list of common procedures due to its cost-saving advantages and improved patient outcomes. The list includes:

  • Tubal ligation and reversal
  • Ectopic pregnancy removal
  • Endometriosis surgery
  • Cyst, fibroid, stone, and polyp removals
  • Small tumor removals
  • Biopsies
  • Urethral and vaginal reconstruction surgery
  • Testicle correction surgery
  • Rectal prolapse repair
  • Hernia repair surgery
  • Cholecystectomy for gallstones
  • Esophageal anti-reflux surgery
  • Gastric bypass surgery
  • Rectum removal
  • Cystectomy (bladder removal)
  • Liver resection
  • Appendix removal
  • Colectomy (bowel resection surgery)
  • Prostrate removal
  • Adrenal gland removal
  • Nephrectomy (kidney removal)
  • Splenectomy (spleen removal)

What are the risks of an abdominal laparoscopy?

The most common risks of laparoscopy are bleeding, infection, and damage to the abdominal organs. However, these cases are rare. After the operation, it is important to watch for signs of infection. Consult a doctor if the following symptoms occur:

  • Fevers or chills
  • Abdominal pain that becomes more intense over time
  • Redness or discoloration, swelling, bleeding, or drainage at the incision sites
  • Continuous nausea or vomiting
  • Persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Inability to urinate
  • Lightheadedness

There is a small risk of damage to organs that are examined during laparoscopy. If an organ is punctured, blood and other fluids may leak into the body. In this case, another surgery is needed to repair the damage.

Preparing for abdominal laparoscopy

It would help to tell your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter medications. The doctor will tell you how to use them before and after the operation. The doctor may change the dose of any medication that could affect the outcome of the laparoscopy. These medications include:

  • Anticoagulants, such as blood thinners
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Other medications that affect blood clotting
  • Herbal or dietary supplements
  • Vitamin K

You should also inform your doctor if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.

You will probably need to stop eating and drinking for at least 8 hours before the laparoscopy and arrange for a family member or friend to accompany you. Laparoscopy is often performed using general anesthesia, which can cause drowsiness and the inability to drive for several hours after surgery.

abdominal laparoscopy performed

How is an abdominal laparoscopy performed?

Laparoscopy is usually performed on an outpatient basis. This means that, in many cases, you can go home the same day as surgery. General anesthesia is likely to be used for this type of surgery. This means you will be asleep during the procedure and usually not feel any pain. An intravenous (IV) line is inserted into one of the veins to achieve general anesthesia.

During a laparoscopy, the surgeon makes an incision below the belly button and inserts a small cannula tube. A cannula is used to inflate the abdomen with carbon dioxide gas. This gas allows the doctor to see the abdominal organs more clearly.

Once the abdomen is inflated, the surgeon inserts the laparoscope through the incision. A camera attached to the laparoscope displays images on a screen, allowing the organs to be viewed in real-time.

The number and size of incisions depend on what specific disease the surgeon confirms or denies. Generally, one to four incisions are made, each 1 to 2 cm long. These cuts allow the insertion of other tools. After the operation, the tools are removed. Then the incision is closed with sutures or surgical tape.

Is laparoscopic surgery major surgery?

The terms “major surgery” and “minor surgery” do not have specific definitions. Healthcare providers use them to describe how complicated or risky one procedure is compared to another and to set expectations for the recovery period. If you ask them about laparoscopic surgery, you may get different answers depending on the type of procedure you are talking about and how extensive it is.

On the one hand, laparoscopic surgery is considered minimally invasive because the incisions are small and organs are not exposed. Also, the types of surgeries that can be performed laparoscopically are usually less complicated. Surgeries that are more complicated than expected may not be able to be completed safely laparoscopically and may have to be converted to open surgery, which is major surgery.

Recovery after laparoscopy

Recovery after laparoscopy

Once the surgery is over, you will be monitored for several hours before being discharged from the hospital. Vital signs, such as breathing and heart rate, are closely monitored. Clearance time will vary. It depends on the general physical condition and the body’s reaction to the surgery.

The effects of general anesthesia usually take several hours to wear off, so driving after surgery can be dangerous. In the days following the laparoscopy, you may feel mild pain and throb in the areas where the incisions were made. Any pain or discomfort should improve within a few days. The doctor may prescribe medication to relieve the pain.

Postoperative shoulder pain is also common. Pain is usually a result of the carbon dioxide gas used to inflate the abdomen to create working space for surgical instruments. This gas can irritate the diaphragm, which shares nerves with the shoulder. It may also cause some bloating. This discomfort should go away within a few days. You can usually resume all your normal activities within a week.


The benefits of this method include the following:

  • Less trauma to the abdominal wall
  • Less blood loss
  • Reduced risk of hemorrhage
  • Smaller scars
  • Reduced risk of wound infection
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Less time in the hospital means less expense
  • Faster recovery time and return to activities
  • Less wound pain during healing
  • Less pain medication is necessary

When is laparoscopic surgery not recommended?

Contraindications include:

  • Prior surgery in the area
  • Excessive body mass in the area
  • Extensive infection or bleeding
  • Cardiopulmonary conditions

The bottom line

Laparoscopy is a modern surgery method. During this procedure, the surgeon inserts thin and delicate instruments through very small incisions into the abdomen and parts of the pelvis.

Laparoscopic surgery tools and techniques continue to improve, making it possible for more complex surgeries to be performed safely through small incisions. Many procedures that were once considered too difficult for minimally invasive procedures can be performed laparoscopically. Based on these innovations, whether this surgery is an elective or preventive, or emergency, they can be more comfortable and without fear and worry. The risk and recovery during this surgery are also greatly reduced.

Additional questions

  1. What is Laparotomy?

Laparotomy is a type of open abdominal surgery to examine the abdominal organs. Surgeons may use this surgery to diagnose and treat various abdominal diseases.

  1. When does endometriosis need laparoscopic surgery?
  • When there is regular, severe abdominal pain that is thought to be caused by endometriosis.
  • Endometriosis or related symptoms have persisted or reappeared after hormone therapy.
  • Endometriosis is believed to interfere with organs such as the bladder or bowel.
  1. What is an intravenous IV injection?

Intravenous means inside a vein. It often refers to giving medicine or fluids through a needle or tube inserted into a vein. In this case, the medicine or liquid immediately enters the bloodstream.

  1. What is Colectomy?

A colectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of the colon. The colon, part of the large intestine, is a tube-like organ at the end of the digestive tract. A colectomy may be necessary to treat or prevent diseases and conditions that affect the colon.

  1. What are the three types of hernia surgery?
  • Open repair
  • Laparoscopic repair
  • Robotic repair