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A laparoscopic surgeon is a fully licensed surgeon who specializes in the laparoscopic technique. Minimally invasive or keyhole surgery are other terms used to describe laparoscopic surgery. In this process, operations on the abdomen are performed through small incisions, which are usually no larger than 2 inches (5.1 cm) in length.
Special equipment is used to expand the abdomen, insert a camera and the necessary medical instruments. The images from the camera are provided on a screen and the laparoscopic surgeon moves the instruments inside the body to complete the task. This process results in less scarring, reducing chance of infection and a shorter recovery period for the patient.
The laparoscopic surgeon is responsible for reviewing the patient’s condition and determining if he or she is a suitable candidate for this type of surgery. The most common surgery using this technique is a cholecystectomy, or gall bladder removal. Small instruments are inserted into the abdomen to hold the gall bladder, seal off the connection, and then separate it from the digestive system. The gall bladder is then removed following a two-step process. The bile and digestive juices are sucked out and then the empty gall bladder can be pulled out using the same incisions made for the instruments.
In situations where the item being removed is larger than the cuts for the instruments, a larger incision is made in a suitable location. This is very common with a colostomy or nephrectomy, where portions of the colon or kidney are removed. The size of the incision depends on the specimen size and if the bowel needs to be reconnected.
Many surgeons combine laparoscopic techniques with traditional surgery for these types of complex procedures. This is called a hand assist laparoscopy. In this process, the laparoscopic surgeon can visually inspect and feel the tissue during the surgical procedure. A hand access port is a sleeve with a seal used to allow the surgeon to maintain the levels of carbon dioxide in the abdomen required for laparoscopic surgery while having access to the abdomen. The combination of these two techniques reduces the surgical time, provides more options for the surgeon, and minimizes the recovery time for the patient.
The use of laparoscopic surgical techniques has expanded to other areas, including gynecology and urology related surgeries. The reduced exposure to the air significantly reduced the chance of a postoperative infection, which remains a frequent cause of hospital related deaths.