Laparoscopy is the most common form of minimally invasive or ‘keyhole’ surgery. It involves putting a camera through a port into the abdominal cavity which has been filled with carbon dioxide gas to allow the surgeon to examine the structures within the abdomen and pelvis without the need for a large incision. It has become the standard of care for most major gynaecological procedures and requires a general anaesthetic.
Gynaecological oncologists use laparoscopy for both investigation and treatment. In some cases where the diagnosis is unclear or if there are concerns about the patient’s fitness to undergo a major open abdominal operation, the surgeon may choose to have a look inside the abdomen to visually assess the situation before proceeding.
Operations which can be done laparoscopically include:
- Division of adhesions
- Removal of tubes (salpingectomy)
- Removal of ovaries (oophorectomy) or ovarian cysts (ovarian cystectomy)
- Removal of uterus and cervix (total hysterectomy)
- Staging surgery for some gynaecological cancers, including lymph node removal and omentectomy
The major advantages to the patient and surgeon from laparoscopic, compared with open surgery include:
- Reduced post-operative pain
- Quicker discharge from hospital
- Less blood loss and adhesions
- Fewer wound complications and infections
- Lower risk of clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) or lungs (pulmonary embolism)
- Improved vision for the surgeon