Laparoscopic Surgery – FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Laparoscopic Surgery?

Laparoscopic surgery, also called minimally invasive surgery or keyhole surgery is a modern surgical technique in which operations in the abdomen are performed through small incisions.

The surgeon inserts a tiny telescope (laparascope) though a small incision at the umbilicus (belly-button). The laparoscope allows the surgeon to visualize the pelvic organs on a video monitor.

Several additional smaller incisions are made in the abdomen for the surgeon to place specially designed surgical instruments, which help the surgeon carry out the same procedure as in open surgery.

Laparoscopic surgery is performed for a range of operations including endemetriosis and ovarian cysts, fertility treatments and hysteroscopy.

What are the benefits of laparoscopy?

There are a number of advantages to the patient with laparoscopic surgery versus an open procedure. These include:

  • Reduced bleeding , which reduces the chance of needing a blood transfusion.
  • Smaller incision, which reduces pain and shortens recovery time.
  • Reduced exposure of internal organs to possible external contaminants thereby reduced risk
    of acquiring infections.
  • 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.
What are the risks of laparoscopic surgery?

The risks are similar for both laparoscopic and open surgery. There is a small chance – 1:1000 – that the surgeon may not be able to complete the procedure laparoscopically, This may be secondary to unexpected complications or because the surgery cannot be safely performed with a laparoscopic approach.

What can we expect immediately following laparoscopic surgery?

Generally, the experience any of the following symptoms within the first 24 to 48 hours:

  • Nausea and light-headedness,
  • Scratchy throat if a breathing tube was used during the general anaesthesia,
  • Pain around the incisions,
  • Abdominal pain or uterine cramping,
  • Shoulder tip pain-secondary to the carbon dioxide gas,
  • Tender umbilicus (belly-button),
  • Gassy or bloated feeling,
  • Vaginal bleeding or discharge (like a menstrual flow).
What is the normal recovery time following laparoscopic surgery?

Recovery depends on the type of procedure performed. Most patients feel well within days of surgery. But if major surgery has been performed rest is still required.

Most patients will require some form of pain medicine in the immediate postoperative period.

The timing for returning to work depends on the procedure performed and your occuption.

Dr Swift will discuss this with you after surgery and help you make an informed choice.

Can endometriosis be treated laparoscopically?

Yes. A laparoscopic biopsy is required to diagnose endometriosis. Endometriotic implants are ideally treated laparoscopically with excision. This treatment usually produces more immediate results in terms of pain relief and improves fertility compared with medical therapy.

How long will it take for full recovery?

The following is a normal timetable for recovery from minimally invasive surgery on the abdomen:

  • The groggy feeling from the anaesthetic disappears the day after surgery and the individual is fully alert once again.
  • Any pain in the shoulders or neck area usually goes away after a few days.
  • Soreness in the incisions disappears within a few days and the incisions heal after about five days.
  • The bloated feeling after abdominal or pelvic laparoscopy goes away within a few days.
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