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Less Invasive Surgery Means Speedier Recovery
A surgical approach known as laparoscopy is transforming many common procedures by reducing recovery times, minimizing adhesions and visible scars, and giving women more options for surgeries as diverse as Nissen fundoplication for gastroesophageal reflux disease to gall bladder removal and hysterectomies.

“More and more women are choosing laparoscopy-assisted surgery instead of open abdominal surgery,” said Debbie Ogden, RN, nurse manager, Operating Room, at Woman’s Hospital, where 24 percent of the more than 7,500 inpatient and outpatient surgeries performed were laparoscopic procedures.

Surgeries where laparoscopy is often a choice include:

A broad range of gynecological procedures, including hysterectomy, myomectomy, ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, and for diagnostic purposes such as to diagnose endometriosis

  • Cholecystectomy, or gall bladder removal
  • Lysis (removal) of adhesions
  • Urologic procedures such as repairing the ureter and the bladder
  • Hernia repair
  • Colon resection

“You have to discuss with your doctor whether you have the right criteria, but the laparoscopic approach is another choice available to many patients,” Ogden said. “It’s a choice for many kinds of surgeries.”

Laparoscopy’s appeal. During a laparoscopic procedure, the surgeon inserts a narrow, telescope-like instrument into the abdomen through a series of small puncture incisions. The instrument, called an endoscope, is affixed with a tiny camera that projects magnified views of the internal organs onto two video screens above the operating table.

Using the video images for guidance, the surgeon inserts a variety of small surgical instruments through the incisions to perform the procedure without directly handling the organs. Carbon dioxide gas, pumped into the abdomen after the patient is asleep under general anesthesia, expands the abdominal cavity so the surgeon has room to work.

The healing time after laparoscopic surgery is faster than for open surgery because it does not require wide incisions through the muscles. That means less time in the hospital and a quicker return to normal activities, said Ogden.

Laparoscopic surgery also is less likely than open surgery to cause adhesions, scar-like tissue that can form after open surgery and cause organs to stick together.

“Recovery times vary by patient and the type of surgery, but laparoscopy shortens your time in the hospital no matter what,” she said.