Laparoscopic surgery is commonly called “minimally invasive” surgery because it involves smaller incisions than traditional open surgery. Incisions are typically 0.5-1 cm, compared with several inches for open surgery. Laparoscopic surgery may be a treatment option for cancer patients.
Laparoscopic surgery is used for several types of operations, including:
Our surgeons use laparoscopic surgery to treat several cancers. For example, we use it to remove gastrointestinal stromal tumors and other sarcomas located within the abdomen. Our surgeons may perform a laparoscopic cystectomy, a surgical procedure to treat bladder cancer by removing the entire bladder or portions of it. In addition, colorectal cancer patients may undergo a laparoscopic colectomy to remove the cancerous portion of the colon and nearby lymph nodes before the healthy ends of the colon are reattached.
For the procedure, your stomach is inflated with carbon dioxide gas to create a visual field and enough room for your surgeon to work. At the outset, your surgeon makes a small incision near your belly button and inserts a special camera known as a laparoscope. The purpose is to make sure the operation can be done safely. Certain conditions, such as a large amount of inflammation, may obscure your surgeon’s view and require a larger incision to operate safely.
Your surgeon then makes other small incisions, or ports, and passes instruments shaped like tubes through each port. These instruments are long and narrow, and have clamps, scissors and sutures at the end. Your surgeon uses these instruments throughout the surgery to manipulate, cut and sew tissue while watching the video from the laparoscope on high-resolution monitors in the operating room.
The advantages of laparoscopic surgery over open surgery may include:
- Shorter recovery time
- Less pain
- Less scarring
In some situation, surgeons opt to create a port large enough to insert their hand during the operation. This technique is called hand-assisted laparoscopy. It requires a port larger than typical laparoscopic incisions, but still smaller than the incision made during open surgery.