Laparoscopy describes the use of a viewing tube equipped with a video-camera and a light source to both examine and undertake surgical procedures inside the body. The technique was pioneered as far back as the early 1900s but only became a routine medical technique in the 1980s.
Laparoscopic instruments and the camera are inserted into the body via one or more small incisions on the abdomen. This allows internal organs to be viewed and procedures to be performed via a real time video feed from the camera which appear on a large screen in the operating theatre.
Laparoscopic surgery is often commonly referred to as 'minimally invasive' or 'keyhole' surgery.
The main benefits of laparoscopic surgery over conventional 'open' surgery are:
- Reduced postoperative pain.
- Reduced recovery times.
- Smaller surgical scars.
- Less risk of wound infection and wound related hernias.
- Fewer adhesions.
A small number (2-5) of small (0.5-1cm) surgical incisions are made around the navel. These incisions are referred to as 'ports', through which the thin tube equipped with the camera and light source and other laparoscopic instruments are passed. Prior to insertion of these instruments a small quantity of inert gas is introduced to the abdominal cavity to allow better visualisation by the surgeon. Once the examination and any necessary procedures have been completed, the instruments are removed, the gas is expelled and the incisions are closed.