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What is Laparoscopic?

Laparoscopic surgeons use cameras and surgical tools that are inserted through small incisions.
A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used for performing surgeries.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 15 April 2014
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Laparoscopic surgery, sometimes misspelled as “laproscopic surgery,” is a type of abdominal surgery which is performed with the assistance of a laparoscope, a small camera which can be used to visualize the surgical field. This type of surgery is also referred to as keyhole, lap, or pinhole surgery, or “minimally invasive surgery,” reflecting the fact that it is much less invasive than traditional surgery. The earliest documented cases of laparoscopic surgery date to the early 1900s, with the procedure growing in leaps and bounds in 1980s. Numerous routine abdominal procedures are performed in this way.

In laparoscopic surgery, the patient is anesthetized, and a laparoscope is inserted into the abdomen through a small incision. In addition to a camera, this surgical tool also has a light source which is used to illuminate the area of interest. The abdomen is often inflated with the use of carbon dioxide gas to make more room, and to make it easier to see.

Once the laparoscope has been inserted, the surgeon can make other small incisions which are used to introduce surgical tools. In exploratory surgery, the surgeon may need tools like probes to move organs around or take samples for biopsy. In a surgery which requires removal or repair, any number of tools may be introduced through these incisions, ranging from scalpels to electrocautery devices.

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There are a number of benefits to laparoscopic surgery. Healing time tends to be faster, because the incisions are small, and the risk of infection is reduced. Less pain medication is required for the patient, and blood loss is greatly reduced, making it much safer for the patient. This surgical technique also carries some risks, including the risk of bowel perforation with surgical tools, or the risk of leaking current from electrocautery devices, which can cause damage to the internal organs. The equipment for laparoscopic surgery is constantly being refined, reducing the risks and maximizing the benefits to the patient.

The abdomen isn't the only place where keyhole surgery can be performed. Specialized surgical cameras are available for procedures like arthroscopic surgery, which takes places in the joints. In the joints, using a camera carries an advantage for the surgeon, since the camera provides an excellent view of a space which is otherwise very cramped and difficult to work in. Utilizing cameras for surgery can also be useful for medical training, since medical students can follow the procedure from anywhere in the operating room on a monitor, rather than needing to stand right next to the surgical field to see what's going on.

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