PatientPlus articles are written by UK doctors and are based on research evidence, UK and European Guidelines. They are designed for health professionals to use, so you may find the language more technical than the condition leaflets.
Synonyms: keyhole surgery, laparoscopic surgery
This involves procedures performed by entering the skin via small incisions or by a body cavity, with two aims:
- To produce the least possible damage to structures.
- At the same time, to achieve the same result as if performed by open or more invasive surgery.
Specialist equipment is required, including fibre optics, camera and equipment with handles.
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The use of light-containing probes to view internal cavities has a long history. Philip Bozzini (1771-1809) a German-born urologist, was the earliest deviser of such equipment which was called the 'Lichtleiter' and was primarily used to examine the vaginal cavity. In 1877 Maximilian Carl-Friedrich Nitze produced the first workable cystoscope; this was also the first instrument with a mechanism to light the inside of an organ. In 1929 Heinz Kalk, a German gastroenterologist, used laparoscopy to diagnose hepatobiliary disease.
30 years later the automatic insufflator was invented and used to perform an appendectomy as part of a gynaecological procedure. However, it was not until the early 1980s that laparoscopic procedures began to be performed on a regular basis in the USA and, subsequently, the UK, leading to regulation regarding procedure and training aspects.
Advantages and disadvantages of minimally invasive surgery
Not all patients will be suitable for minimally invasive procedures. For example, raised body mass index, previous abdominal surgery leading to adhesions or other underlying medical conditions may affect the decision on whether to proceed towards more invasive surgery.
|Cardiac||Closing atrial septal defects.|
Coronary artery bypass graft ('off pump').
Repairing patent foramen ovale.
Lymph node biopsy.
Hiatus hernia, umbilical and inguinal hernia repairs.
Inflammatory bowel disease.
|Neurological||Removal of pituitary tumours.|
Treatment of intracranial aneurysms.
Radiosurgery for brain tumours.
|Orthopaedic||Arthroscopy of joints.|
Carpal tunnel release.
Pelvic fracture repair.
Rotator cuff repair.
|Otorhinolaryngology||Removal of nasal/sinus tumours.|
Lymph node biopsy.
Recurrent pleural effusions.
Removal of kidney and ureteric calculi.
|Vascular||Stenting carotid and renal arteries.|
Repair of thoracic and abdominal aneurysms.
Further reading & references
- Iribarne A, Easterwood R, Chan EY, et al; The golden age of minimally invasive cardiothoracic surgery: current and future perspectives. Future Cardiol. 2011 May;7(3):333-46. doi: 10.2217/fca.11.23.
- Ahmad G, O'Flynn H, Duffy JM, et al; Laparoscopic entry techniques. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Feb 15;2:CD006583. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006583.pub3.
- Morgenthal CB, Richards WO, Dunkin BJ, et al; The role of the surgeon in the evolution of flexible endoscopy. Surg Endosc. 2007 Jun;21(6):838-53. Epub 2006 Dec 16.
- Humphreys MR; The emerging role of robotics and laparoscopy in stone disease. Urol Clin North Am. 2013 Feb;40(1):115-28. doi: 10.1016/j.ucl.2012.09.005.
- Rehman H, Mathews T, Ahmed I; A review of minimally invasive single-port/incision laparoscopic appendectomy. J Laparoendosc Adv Surg Tech A. 2012 Sep;22(7):641-6. doi: 10.1089/lap.2011.0237.
- Minimally Invasive Surgery; University of Chicago, 2012
- Leaney B; What's new in vascular interventional radiology? Aortic stent grafting. Aust Fam Physician. 2006 May;35(5):294-7.
- Minimally invasive surgery at Mayo; Mayo Clinic
- Vollroth M, Seeburger J, Garbade J, et al; Minimally invasive mitral valve surgery is a very safe procedure with very low rates of conversion to full sternotomy. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2012 Jul;42(1):e13-5; discusson e16. doi: 10.1093/ejcts/ezs195. Epub 2012 May 18.
- Benway BM, Bhayani SB, Rogers CG, et al; Robot assisted partial nephrectomy versus laparoscopic partial nephrectomy for renal tumors: a multi-institutional analysis of perioperative outcomes. J Urol. 2009 Sep;182(3):866-72. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2009.05.037. Epub 2009 Jul 17.
- Gordon A; Complications of laparoscopy, Geneva Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2012
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Gurvinder Rull
Dr Laurence Knott
Prof Cathy Jackson