Laparoscopic procedures have changed the field of surgery and are benefiting the surgeons, the hospitals, and most importantly, the patients.
Laparoscopic procedures began mostly in the gastrointestinal area and gynecological areas. Gallbladders are being removed in thirty minutes with a stay in the hospital of perhaps twenty three hours, where previously, an open procedure would take two plus hours and the patient would have a hospital stay of three to four days. Complications such as pneumonia were common because of where the incision was located. Is was usually made on the upper right side of the abdomen, below the rib cage, and when the nurses encouraged the patient to do their post-op breathing exercises, it HURT. The patients were reluctant to take the deep breaths, thus increasing the chance of post op pneumonia and a prolonged hospital stay. With a laparoscopic procedure, four to five small incisions are made on the abdomen with the largest usually being in the umbilical area. If as much of the CO2 is released from the belly as possible when the procedure is finished, then post op pain is minimal. The surgeons usually inject a long-acting anesthetic into the incisions and the patients wake up feeling like they are ready to go home.
Still, they must remember they really have had major surgery and must be monitored for post op bleeding or other complications, but for the most part, most of them are able to be discharged home within twenty four hours.
Recovery time at home also decreases from six weeks to about two weeks for most people. Of course, it depends on the person, but most people are cleared to return to light duty at the end of two weeks if they have had no complications.
The surgeons are able to do more cases, and laparoscopic surgery is easier, too, than being hunched over a person, retracting resisting muscle and tissue. Visibility is greater, allowing for fewer mistakes, less possibility of instruments or sponges being left behind in the patient, and, dare I say it, its fun. They have done studies that show that surgeons who play a lot of video games are better at laparoscopic surgeries. It develops better hand-eye coordination which is essential to being a good laparoscopic surgeon. Imagine that conversation. “But Honey, I’m not playing video games, I swear. I’m practicing so I can be a better surgeon.”
As for the benefits for the hospitals: more procedures being done, fewer complications and fewer lawsuits. Happier surgeons, patients, and nurses, meaning fewer employee turnovers.
Laparoscopic surgery is being used in more and more areas now. Neurosurgeons are using it for brain surgery. Otolaryngologists are using it for ear and sinus surgery and plastic surgeons use it for face lifts to minimize muscle and nerve damage and to give a more natural appearance.
Nothing in the last fifty years has advanced the field of surgery more than Laparoscopy and for the good of all involved, and is continuing to do so. It is a wonderful thing, indeed.