What is laparoscopy?

Laparoscopy is a surgical technique for inspection of the abdominal cavity that does not require large incisions.

The multiple advantages offered by surgical laparoscopy mean that it is used in various medical specialties. In urology, for example, it requires less specialization and recovery time, in addition to limiting infectious complications. It also reduces postoperative pain and there are no visible scars. Another case is that of gynecology, where it is used to inspect some pathologies or gynecological processes, such as cysts, myomas, hysterectomies, pelvic inflammatory diseases, ectopic pregnancies, among others.

Some other processes or medical specialties in which laparoscopy is used are prostate cancer, varicocele or some kidney diseases.

Why is it performed?

Abdominal laparoscopy may be indicated as a diagnostic technique to confirm or rule out the suspicion of a tumor or mass and to take tissue samples (biopsy). In gynecology it can help in the diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy or tumor problems in the genital tract.

In the case of the surgical technique, it is used in various situations, such as the removal of the appendix, drainage of abscesses and effusions or hemorrhages, among others. The main advantage over open surgery is the shorter hospitalization time and postoperative pain.

The technique is used in various medical specialties.

What does it consist of?

During the surgery process, a laparoscope, which is a tube containing an optical system coupled to a light source, is introduced into the abdomen. This camera allows the doctor to inspect, through a monitor, the pelvic organs. If necessary, the specialist can also introduce other instruments through the laparoscope and make the necessary corrections.

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Preparation for laparoscopy

Laparoscopy is performed under local anesthesia to the patient, although in some cases it can be performed under general anesthesia, for example if it is an abdominal intervention. When general anesthesia is required, it is necessary to perform a preoperative study, which should include a chest X-ray, an electrocardiogram and a blood test.

Post-operative care

Postoperative pain is less than with traditional surgery, but there will still be some pain in the navel and abdominal incisions (entry points) for a few days. There will also be some pain in the neck and right shoulder for the next 24 to 48 hours. The shoulder pain is due to the carbon dioxide, applied to distend the abdominal cavity.

In many cases the patient can return home the same day of the intervention and in one or two days can return to a normal life. It is usual to take an analgesic for pain during the first days.

Alternatives to this treatment

The alternative to laparoscopy is traditional open surgery. As mentioned above, the fact of making small incisions in laparoscopy allows a quick recovery and reduces the risk of infections after the operation, among others.

Even so, it should be taken into account that laparoscopy usually takes longer. In addition, it is a technique that cannot be performed in all cases. Some disadvantages could be:

  • The presence of adhesions that complicate instrumental entry into the abdominal cavity.
  • Large size of the tumor.
  • Excessive bleeding.