Minimally invasive or laparoscopic surgery involves using multiple thin tubes placed through 3 to 5 small incisions. These incisions are usually less than ¼ inch. Carbon dioxide gas is then used to slowly inflate the abdomen. A thin telescope is placed through one of the tubes. This allows the surgical team to view the inside of the abdomen on a TV monitor. Specialized instruments are placed through the other tubes to perform the operation. For colon surgery, one of the incisions is enlarged to remove the piece of colon. This larger incision can also be made initially, allowing one hand to be placed within the abdomen along with the camera and long instruments to assist with the operation. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia.
Results are different for each procedure and each patient. Some common advantages of minimally invasive colorectal surgery are:
- Shorter hospital stay
- Shorter recovery time
- Less pain from the incisions
- Faster return to normal diet
- Faster return to work or normal activity
- Better cosmetic healing
Many patients qualify for laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery. However, some conditions may decrease a patient’s eligibility, such as previous abdominal surgery, cancer (in some situations), obesity, variations in anatomy or advanced heart, lung or kidney disease.