What is laparoscopic surgery?
Laparoscopic surgery (or laparoscopy) is a procedure to examine inside the abdominal and/or pelvic cavities using a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a thin tube fitted with an intense light and camera that is inserted through a small incision. The camera sends images to a video screen and your Colorectal Specialist can see inside your body in real time.
Because of the small incisions, it’s commonly called keyhole surgery or minimally invasive surgery.
Why is laparoscopic surgery done?
Laparoscopic surgery may be done to identify and diagnose the cause of abdominal or pelvic pain. Your specialist surgeon can examine the surface of abdominal structures, detect abnormalities and/or take sample (biopsies).
It is often done to treat a number of conditions such as endometriosis, hernias, rectal prolapse and colorectal cancer.
How do I prepare for laparoscopic surgery?
Your specialist will ask you about any medications you are taking. She will let you know if you need to make any changes to these before and after the procedure.
Before you have laparoscopic surgery, you may need other tests such as blood tests, faecal tests and imaging (e.g. ultrasound, CT or MRI). Your doctor will let you know.
You’ll probably need to avoid eating and drinking for 8–12 hours (or more) before the procedure. You will also need to arrange for someone to take you home after the procedure because you will have had a general anaesthetic.
What happens during a laparoscopy?
Sometimes laparoscopy is done as an outpatient procedure. That is, you can go home the same day as the surgery. Your laparoscopy specialist will let you know if an overnight stay is needed
Laparoscopic surgery is done under a general anaesthetic. You will sleep through it and you won’t feel any pain.
Your surgeon will make an incision near your belly button and insert a small tube. The tube is used to inflate your abdomen with carbon dioxide gas. This allows your surgeon to see your organs more clearly.
Next, the laparoscope is inserted through the incision. The camera on the laparoscope tip sends an image to a screen in the procedure room.
Up to three other small incisions are made. These allow other instruments to be inserted for biopsies to be taken or other procedures to be performed.
After the procedure is finished, the instruments and the laparoscope are removed. The small incisions are closed with stitches or tape. Dressings may be placed over the incisions to protect them.
What happens after laparoscopy?
After the procedure, you’ll be taken to a recovery area where you’ll wake up from the anaesthetic. Hospital staff will monitor you and make sure you’re recovering well.
It may take several hours before you’re okay to go home. In some cases, you might need to stay in the hospital overnight. This will depend on:
- your general health
- the type of anaesthetic
- what was done during the laparoscopy
- your recovery speed.
You might feel some discomfort for a few days. The incisions can feel a bit uncomfortable. It’s common to have shoulder pain due to the carbon dioxide irritating your diaphragm, which shares nerves with your shoulder.
Most people can get back to normal life within about a week.
A follow-up appointment will be scheduled about 2 weeks after surgery.