What is minimally invasive surgery?

In minimally invasive surgery, surgeons use a variety of techniques to operate with smaller incisions rather than the larger cuts often needed in traditional surgery. In minimally invasive colorectal surgery, the surgeon uses an endoscope (a tube with light and camera) through a small incision in the abdomen that allows the surgeon to see the inside of the abdomen and operate through other small cuts using a variety of instruments.

How is laparoscopic colorectal surgery performed?

The surgeon usually enters the abdomen through a small cut at or close to the navel. Gas (carbon dioxide) is used to fill the abdominal cavity to create a space that allows the surgeon to operate using a variety of instruments. A laparoscope (a camera) is passed into the abdomen which allows the surgeon to have a magnified view of the abdominal organs on a tv screen. Several other small cuts can be made to use a variety of instruments to perform the operation. If you’re having colonic resection, one of the cuts is often extended to allow extraction of the resected colon.

What are the benefits of minimally invasive surgery?

  • Less pain and discomfort
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery and return to work
  • Less intra-abdominal scar formation which is the major cause of small bowel obstruction
  • Small incisions mean lower risk of wound complications (infection and bleeding)
  • Small incisions mean lower risk of incisional hernias
  • Better cosmetic result

Am I a candidate for laparoscopic surgery?

Laparoscopic colorectal surgery is technically demanding and require special training. You need to consult with your surgeon if laparoscopic surgery is suitable for you and the procedure you are having. Although most of operations can be done laparoscopically, your surgeon may decide not to do laparoscopic surgery for several reasons:

  • You may have pre-existing medical conditions that make laparoscopic surgery hazardous
  • Most emergency operations are performed open. Most patients in these situations are critically ill and faster operation and shorter anaesthetic time is important for patient’s recovery
  • You have a history of multiple abdominal surgeries that would make laparoscopic surgery difficult and/or risky due to pre-existing intra-abdominal adhesions