Laparoscopy (keyhole surgery)

Laparoscopy is a type of surgical procedure that allows a surgeon to access the inside of the abdomen and pelvis without having to make large incisions in the skin. It is also known as keyhole surgery or minimally invasive surgery.

Large incisions can be avoided during laparoscopy because the surgeon uses an instrument called a laparoscope. This is a small tube that has a light source and a camera, which relays images of the inside of the abdomen or pelvis to a television monitor.

The advantages of this technique over traditional “open” surgery include:

• a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery time
• less pain and bleeding after the operation
• reduced scarring

What happens?

Laparoscopy is carried out under general anaesthetic, so you will not feel any pain during the procedure.  During laparoscopy, the surgeon makes one or more small incisions in the abdomen.  These allow the surgeon to insert the laparoscope, small surgical tools and a tube used to pump gas into the abdomen so it is easier for the surgeon to look around and operate.

After the procedure, the gas is let out of your abdomen, the incisions are closed using stitches and a dressing applied.

You can often go home on the same day you have laparoscopy, although sometimes you may need to stay overnight in hospital.

What are the risks?

Laparoscopic surgery is very common and generally regarded as very safe. Serious complications are rare, occurring in an estimated 1 in 1,000 cases.  Possible complications that can develop include:

• damage to organs, such as the bladder or bowel
• injury to a major artery
• damage to nerves in the pelvis

Ask your surgeon to explain how any risks might apply to you.