Laparoscopic/Minimally Invasive Surgery
Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally-invasive alternative to traditional surgery.
Frequently referred to as “open” surgery, traditional surgery requires the surgeon to make one large incision. Laparoscopic surgery, however, allows the surgeon to perform the same procedure while using a series of smaller incisions on the abdomen. Thin tubes (called trocars) are placed in each of these small incisions, which range in length from 0.5 to 1 cm. Carbon dioxide gas is then used to expand the abdominal cavity, providing the surgeon with room to operate.
Long, thin instruments are placed into the trocars so that the surgeon can work inside of the abdomen from the outside. A small camera, or laparoscope, is inserted into one of the incisions. Images are transmitted to high-resolution video monitors so the surgeon can see detailed images of the patient’s abdomen throughout the entire surgical procedure.
Once the surgeon examines the abdomen, he/she can determine if it is safe to proceed with laparoscopic surgery. It is in this manner, that large organs such as the colon can be removed via small incisions.
What happens before and after surgery – what can the patient expect?
According to the American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons, “Compared to traditional open surgery, patients often experience less pain, a shorter recovery and less scarring with laparoscopic surgery.” Patients who undergo laparoscopic surgery are able to spend less time in the hospital and return to work and their normal activities more quickly. Because open surgery requires a large abdominal incision, it may also be associated with increased risk for small bowel obstruction, secondary to adhesions/scar tissue, and increased risk for developing an abdominal hernia. Laparoscopic surgery is considered to be as safe as traditional surgery with a decreased risk of experiencing these subsequent medical conditions.
Most intestinal surgeries can be performed laparoscopically by an experienced surgeon, including colorectal conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, cancer, rectal prolapse, unresectable polyps, bowel obstruction and severe constipation. Laparoscopic and Laparoscopic-assisted surgery are also considered acceptable alternatives to open surgery for colon cancer, as recent studies have concluded that it is as effective as open surgery in the short term and is likely to produce similar long-term outcomes.
Dr. Paonessa is a skilled laparoscopic surgeon who performs laparoscopic surgery for a majority of her patients with excellent outcomes. Please visit the photo gallery of some examples of patients who have had laparoscopic surgery.