The creation of video surgery has revolutionized the second millennium. With ten years of solid experience behind them, surgeons can now approach almost every part of the human body with cameras, video monitors and scalpels. As new surgical instruments and better cameras and video display systems are developed, the frontiers for laparoscopic surgery will expand even further.
Basically, this new technology uses a small video-camera and a few customized instruments to perform surgery with minimal tissue injury. The camera and instruments are inserted through small skin cuts and allow a surgeon to explore the whole area to be operated on, without the need of making large openings that divide skin and muscle.
First a small cut is made and then a harmless gas, such as carbon dioxide, is introduced into the body cavity to expand it and create a large working space. Through additional small cuts, a rod-shaped telescope, attached to a camera, and other long and narrow surgical insturments are placed into the "space." Under high magnification, diseased organs are able to be examined. Small entry ports are now able to be made by the surgeon to allow access to the organs that need removal or a surgical procedure. Many organs can now be approached in a similar manner including the gall bladder, stomach, intestines, pancreas, spleen, kidneys and all the female organs. More recently operations have also been developed for diseases of the bladder and the prostate in men.
The advantages of this method of operating include overall reduction of trauma to skin and muscles, lessening of post operative pain and a quicker recovery. For example, gall stones can be removed with the gallbladder in over 90% of patients presenting with this disorder by the laparoscopic method. Patients can now usually resume their normal activities in several weeks, instead of months of bed rest and limited activities which was associated with the old method of surgery. Reduction in infection rate is the second advantage. Delicate tissues are not exposed to the air for long periods of time as they are when the body is wide open in a traditional surgery. Also, magnification of diseased organs and the surrounding vessels, tissues and nerves allows the surgeons to delicately maneuver to protect these vital vessels and nerves during the removal or repair of the target organ.
Disadvantages of laparoscopic surgery include costly equipment, special training for surgeons and limitations on those who qualify. Some patients with many prior operations may have so much scar tissue within the body that a safe operation cannot be accomplished. Always check with your hospital and physician about your surgical options.
The future is still wide open for this new and revolutionary way of performing surgery. With improvements in video cameras and monitoring equipment, coupled with extensive physician training - only time will tell what new innovations will become available to benefit us all.
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