Even under the best of circumstances, any surgery is an invasive procedure. If the surgeon is not cutting into the skin, and splaying it open, he is cutting into the structures beneath the skin. However, the use of laparoscopy makes surgery much less invasive, and often more effective. But what is laparoscopy, and how exactly does it benefit patients?
What is laparoscopy?
Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure where the surgeon inserts a fiber optic tube into a body cavity and performs surgery on the structures inside the body without splaying the open the skin. Laparoscopy uses a relatively small incision, which makes this procedure minimally invasive as compared to traditional surgical techniques. Because the surgeon can't see into the body, the fiber optic tube has a tiny camera mounted on the end, which projects the image onto a video screen and allows the surgeon see what he is working on. In addition to the camera, laparoscopic surgery can also use specialized tools, such as laser scalpels and suction tubes, instead of the larger, more traditional tools used in traditional surgery.
What are the advantage of laparoscopic surgery?
The biggest advantage to laparoscopic surgery is that patients have much shorter recovery time after surgery. Because the incision is small, there is less that needs to heal and the patient experiences lest post operative discomfort. Additionally, because the surgeon is working through a smaller incision, less of the interior of the body is exposed to the outside air, which reduces the risk of infection. The smaller incision also means smaller scars and less scar tissue.
Uses for laparoscopic surgery.
Although laparoscopic is groundbreaking, it has very specific and limited uses due to the nature of the surgery and the type of incision. The tubes can only be inserted into a body cavity, such as the abdomen, skull, and certain joints. Because the incision is so small, doctors are generally unable to put their hands inside the cavity, which makes it difficult to perform some complex abdominal procedures. However, some surgeons are starting to use tools called hand access devices, which are specially designed to allow the surgeon to place his hand inside the abdomen during laparoscopic surgery.
Dr. Hryar Shahinian of the Skullbase Institute uses laparoscopic surgery to operate on brain tumors and lesions that might otherwise be impossible to reach via traditional surgery.
For example, a tumor on the hypothalamus might involve removing all or part of the front of the face to reach the tumor, it might also involve cutting into the surrounding structures and risking more damage to the brain. With laparoscopic surgery, he can access that part of the brain through the nasal cavity, and use the tiny, specialized laparoscopic tools to zero in on the tumor, and spare much of the surrounding tissue.
He also reports that patients who have laparoscopic brain surgery often have shorter recovery times, and shorter hospital stays.
Dr. Hryar Shahinian is a highly-rated, and well-respected pioneer in his field, but he is not the only doctor who uses laparoscopic surgery to make his patients' lives easier. There are thousands of doctors across the country trained in using laparoscopic surgery to treat a variety of illnesses and disorders.
There is also a branch of laparoscopic surgery known as robot-assisted surgery, where the surgeon uses a remote computer-assisted robotic system to perform the actual surgery, without ever touching the patient.
Laparoscopy is just one of the surgical techniques that have evolved to improve the quality of patient care. It is also one of the most important because it allows surgeons to reach areas that might otherwise be impossible through traditional means.