Laparoscopic surgery, also called minimally invasive surgery (MIS), bandaid surgery, or keyhole surgery, is a modern surgical technique in which operations are performed far from their location through small incisions (usually 0.5–1.5 cm) elsewhere in the body.
There are a number of advantages to the patient with laparoscopic surgery versus the more common, open procedure. Pain and hemorrhaging are reduced due to smaller incisions and recovery times are shorter. The key element in laparoscopic surgery is the use of a laparoscope, a long fiber optic cable system which allows viewing of the affected area by snaking the cable from a more distant, but more easily accessible location.
There are two types of laparoscope:
(1). a telescopic rod lens system, that is usually connected to a video camera (single chip or three chip)
(2). a digital laparoscope where the charge-coupled device is placed at the end of the laparoscope
Also attached is a fiber optic cable system connected to a 'cold' light source (halogen or xenon), to illuminate the operative field, which is inserted through a 5 mm or 10 mm cannula or trocar. The abdomen is usually insufflated with carbon dioxide gas. This elevates the abdominal wall above the internal organs to create a working and viewing space. CO2 is used because it is common to the human body and can be absorbed by tissue and removed by the respiratory system. It is also non-flammable, which is important because electrosurgical devices are commonly used in laparoscopic procedures.
Laparoscopic surgery includes operations within the abdominal or pelvic cavities, whereas keyhole surgery performed on the thoracic or chest cavity is called thoracoscopic surgery. Specific surgical instruments used in a laparoscopic surgery include: forceps, scissors, probes, dissectors, hooks, retractors and more. Laparoscopic and thoracoscopic surgery belong to the broader field of endoscopy.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the most common laparoscopic procedure performed. In this procedure, 5–10 mm diameter instruments (graspers, scissors, clip applier) can be introduced by the surgeon into the abdomen through trocars (hollow tubes with a seal to keep the CO2 from leaking). Over one million cholecystectomies are performed in the U.S. annually, with over 96% of those being performed laparoscopically.
There are two different formats for laparoscopic surgery. Multiple incisions are required for technology such as the da Vinci Surgical System, which uses a console located away from the patient, with the surgeon controlling a camera, vacuum pump, saline cleansing solution, cutting tools, etc. each located within its own incision site, but oriented toward the surgical objective. The surgeon's hands manipulate two haptic grippers which track hand movements and rotations while relaying haptic sensations back to the surgeon.
In contrast, requiring only a single small incision, the "Bonati system" (invented by Dr. Alfred Bonati), uses a single 5-function control, so that a saline solution and the vacuum pump operate together when the laser cutter is activated. A camera and light provide feedback to the surgeon, who sees the enlarged surgical elements on a TV monitor. The Bonati system was designed for spinal surgery and has been promoted only for that purpose.
Conceptually, the laparoscopic approach is intended to minimise post-operative pain and speed up recovery times, while maintaining an enhanced visual field for surgeons. Due to improved patient outcomes, in the last two decades, laparoscopic surgery has been adopted by various surgical sub-specialties including gastrointestinal surgery (including bariatric procedures for morbid obesity), gynecologic surgery and urology. Based on numerous prospective randomized controlled trials, the approach has proven to be beneficial in reducing post-operative morbidities such as wound infections and incisional hernias (especially in morbidly obese patients), and is now deemed safe when applied to surgery for cancers such as cancer of colon.
The restricted vision, the difficulty in handling of the instruments (new hand-eye coordination skills are needed), the lack of tactile perception and the limited working area are factors which add to the technical complexity of this surgical approach. For these reasons, minimally invasive surgery has emerged as a highly competitive new sub-specialty within various fields of surgery. Surgical residents who wish to focus on this area of surgery gain additional laparoscopic surgery training during one or two years of fellowship after completing their basic surgical residency. In OBGYN residency programs, the average laparoscopy-to-laparotomy quotient (LPQ) is 0.55.
- Reduced hemorrhaging, which reduces the chance of needing a blood transfusion.
- Smaller incision, which reduces pain and shortens recovery time, as well as resulting in less post-operative scarring.
- Less pain, leading to less pain medication needed.
- Although procedure times are usually slightly longer, hospital stay is less, and often with a same day discharge which leads to a faster return to everyday living.
- Reduced exposure of internal organs to possible external contaminants thereby reduced risk of acquiring infections.
- There are more indications for laparoscopic surgery in gastrointestinal emergencies as the field develops
Although laparoscopy in adult age group is widely accepted, its advantages in pediatric age group is questioned. Benefits of laparoscopy appears to recede with younger age. Efficacy of laparoscopy is inferior to open surgery in certain conditions such as pyloromyotomy for Infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis. Although laparoscopic appendectomy has lesser wound problems than open surgery, the former is associated with more intra-abdominal abscesses.