Laparoscopic surgery or keyhole surgery is minimally invasive surgery that requires only a small incision in the abdominal wall, transforming the way surgery is done in Australia, and around the globe. Laparoscopic surgery is actually the most common approach for the surgical management of gynaecological conditions and cancers.
During laparoscopic surgery, a thin telescope called a laparoscope is passed through your belly button to give clear pictures of your pelvic organs: the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Laparoscopic surgery has a number of advantages over convential open surgery, called a laparotomy, especially when diagnosing and treating specific gynaecological conditions.
The benefits of gynaecological laparoscopy are:
You will have a general anaesthetic, which means you’ll be asleep during the operation.
The surgery starts with a small cut measuring 5-10mm below your belly button to put a needle through to inflate your abdomen with carbon dioxide gas. This step is necessary to make it easier for me, your surgeon, to see your pelvic organs.
Next, a tiny telescope with a camera and light, called a laparoscope, is inserted through the same incision to enable me to see your pelvic organs. It is also necessary to make 3-4 other small cuts in your abdomen to use other instruments to gently move your pelvic organs for a better view.
Any surgical procedure carries a degree of risk and laparoscopic surgery is no exception. However, there’s a less than 1% risk of injury to bowel, blood vessels, bladder, ureters and nerves to the leg.
These risks are often related to the reason for surgery in the first place and tend to be higher in women who have previously undergone abdominal surgery.
There’s always a small risk that any laparoscopic procedure may need to be converted to an open procedure, either due to unexpected findings at the time of the surgery or, more rarely, due to complications during the surgery.
In most cases, we recommend some light food on the day of the surgery as soon as you’ve recovered sufficiently from the anaesthetic.
You’re likely to notice some soreness where the cuts were made. It isn’t unusual to experience some pain in your shoulders after the surgery, as a result of a small amount of trapped carbon dioxide under the diaphragm. This gas is absorbed rapidly over the next few hours.
Depending on the extent of your surgery, you’ll go home 1 to 2 days after surgery.
It’s not possible or advisable to approach all gynaecological surgery via a laparoscopic approach. Typical examples would be a complex pelvic or ovarian mass that should preferably be removed intact or when the uterus is significantly enlarged.
As your highly skilled surgeon, I’ll discuss these factors with you during the surgical planning and answer any questions you may have.