Did you know that every year, nearly 15 million laparoscopic surgeries are performed yearly? About 32% of these surgeries occur in the United States itself. Laparoscopic surgeries are a minimally invasive surgical procedure. These surgeries are also known as keyhole surgeries because they involve very small incisions. Laparoscopic surgery can be used to diagnose abdomen and pelvis conditions, remove a damaged organ, or perform a biopsy, which is tissue sample extraction. Mostly laparoscopic surgeries are used for gallbladder removal, esophageal surgery, colon surgery, and surgery on the stomach and the spleen.
To avoid large incisions in this procedure, surgeons use a device called a laparoscope. There are two types of laparoscopes used for surgery: a telescopic rod lens system and a digital laparoscope. A telescopic rod lens system is normally connected to a video camera. When using the digital laparoscope, surgeons attach a miniature digital video camera at the end. However, as of now, the telescopic rod lens system is a more common laparoscope found in most hospitals.
There are four main steps in a laparoscopic surgery: the incision, the first part of the procedure, the second part of the surgery, and the aftercare. In the first step, trochars, which are short, narrow tubes, are inserted into the abdomen through small incisions. The incisions that are made arte no more than one centimeter in length. Next, in the first part of the procedure, carbon dioxide is infused into the patient's abdomen through one of the trochars. This is to make space for the surgeon to perform their procedure because the anterior abdominal wall is pushed upward. Through another trochar, a camera is inserted into the body. This camera is attached to a video monitor to allow the surgeon to see into the abdominal area. In the second part of the surgery, clamps, scissors, and sutures are inserted through another trochar to perform the procedure. The procedure itself is just like a normal surgery. Lastly, in the aftercare, it is treated like a normal surgery where the patient is stitched up. However, there is less post-surgery pain due to the smaller incisions.
Like many medical procedures and treatment plans, laparoscopic surgery also has its own advantages and disadvantages. Some of its pros are the reduced hemorrhaging resulting in a smaller chance of a blood transfusion, less scarring due to the smaller incision, less pain and shorter recovery time due to the smaller incision, use of regional anesthesia which can produce fewer complications and a quicker recovery, less hospital stay, a smaller chance of getting an infection since there is much less exposure of internal organs, and a slighter chance of gastrointestinal emergencies. However, this procedure has some cons too, but mostly they affect the surgeons. For instance, the surgery requires pneumoperitoneum, which is the abnormal insertion of gas into the body to allow for enough visualization and operation space. In addition, surgeons have a smaller range of motion due to the smaller hole that results in a loss of dexterity, there is poor depth perception, the tools move in the opposite direction to the surgeon's hand, so some surgeries are better with full access to the patient's abdominal region.
Like many surgeries, laparoscopic surgery can result in complications, some serious and some mild. Some minor complications include infection, minor bleeding and bruising around the incision, and feeling sick and vomiting. These happen to about 1 to 2 out of 100 patients. Some major complications include damage to organs like bowels and bladders, damage to major arteries, complications from the carbon dioxide gas like veins being filled with gas bubbles, a reaction to the anesthesia, and a blood clot in a vein. This happens only once in about 1000 cases. As can be seen, most of the time, the surgery is extremely safe and likely to turn out fine.
Therefore, laparoscopic surgeries are a major breakthrough in the medicine world. In fact, this procedure continues to advance. Scientists, researchers, and medical professionals have worked to create robotic laparoscopic surgery. In this type of surgery, a surgeon controls robotic arms. This is extremely efficient because the machine provides better mobility, has increased precision, even lower complication risks, a magnified 3D vision inside the body, and smaller incisions than the ones already used in laparoscopic procedures. In the end, the invention of these surgeries has been extremely helpful and it has saved the lives of tens of millions of people since its creation in 1987.