A laparoscope is a special telescope designed for medical use. It is connected to a high intensity (fiber-optic) light source as well as a high-resolution television camera. This allows the surgeon to view the abdominal cavity. The laparoscope is placed into the abdominal cavity through a hollow tube (trocar) and the image is viewed on a TV monitor.
There are many advantages over traditional open surgery. People who undergo laparoscopic procedures often have a shorter hospitalization. On average 1 to 2 days for laparoscopic versus 5 to 7 days for open surgery. Also, since laparoscopy utilizes much smaller incisions, the risk of wound infection is less and consequently the risk of hernia formation is less. While postoperative pain is different for everybody, patients often report much less pain after laparoscopy.
The most frequent complications of any operation are bleeding and infection. There is a small risk of other complications that include, but are not limited to, injury to the abdominal organs, intestines, urinary bladder or blood vessels. As with any laparoscopic procedure, there is a chance of “conversion” to the open procedure. Most often this occurs to people that have had many previous abdominal surgeries and have a lot of scar tissue. In the hands of experienced laparoscopic surgeons conversion to open is very rare.
Dr. Frantzides often operates on patients who have had previous abdominal surgery. While you will be at a higher risk of being “converted” to an open operation, we believe that most patients deserve the opportunity to have a laparoscopic procedure. Some surgeons will not attempt laparoscopic surgery on patients with previous open abdominal surgery. With our experience, we have learned that many patients can be done laparoscopically.
There are not set guidelines on who should be done laparoscopically. Various factors play a role in laparoscopic surgery. If one surgeon does not believe that he/she can perform the operation laparoscopically, we would be happy to give our opinion for your individual circumstance. The vast majority of procedures we perform (99%) are done laparoscopically.
Laparoscopic surgery is not “pain-less”, but rather “less-pain”. In traditional open surgery, often a large 6 to 8 inch incision is made on the abdomen. During laparoscopic surgery, 4 to 6 quarter-inch incisions are made on the abdomen. These incisions allow special instruments to be placed in to the abdominal cavity that will allow the surgeon to complete the case.
Most people go home within 1-2 days (depending on the procedure performed). When you go home you will have some soreness around the incisions; this is normal. Your pain will get better every day, even though you may still need to take oral pain relievers. You will be able to shower (no baths/pools/soaking in water for 10-14 days). You will be able to go up and down stairs and you will be able to drive when you feel up to it, as long as you are not on narcotic pain relievers. You will receive detailed postoperative instructions as well as contact information. We are available 24 hours a day even after you go home.