For some conditions, laparoscopic or other types of minimally invasive surgery may be the best treatment option. Here are some of the conditions that are most commonly treated with laparoscopic surgery. Your doctor will discuss the best treatment for your particular condition with you.
Adrenal glands are small triangular-shaped glands that sit above the kidneys. Your adrenal glands produce important hormones the body needs to function properly (for example, adrenaline, aldosterone, and cortisol). If a tumor develops on an adrenal gland, it can have an effect on hormone production. Most adrenal tumors are benign, but approximately 10-15% are cancerous. Adrenal tumors may be asymptomatic and are most often identified during an unrelated abdominal x-ray.
- Headache, sweating, and heart palpitations
- Uncontrollable blood pressure
- Blurred vision
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Rapid heart rate
- High blood pressure and low blood potassium
- Weakness, fatigue, and frequent urination (Conn Syndrome)
- Obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, menstrual irregularities, fragile skin, and stretch marks (Cushing Syndrome)
If tumors appear in the adrenal glands, surgery is performed to remove all or part of the glands. For laparoscopic adrenalectomy, four to five small incisions will be made into the side of your abdomen, and laparoscopic instruments will be used to extract the adrenal gland.
Most patients take 1 to 2 weeks to recover from the laparoscopic surgery.
The colon (also known as the large bowel or large intestine) is a tubular muscle that absorbs water and prepares waste to be expressed from the body. The last four inches of the colon are called the rectum. Common problems associated with the colon include polyps, cancer, infection, and inflammation.
- Difficulty passing gas or stools
- Fever and chills
- Severe abdominal pain
- Rectal bleeding
- Bloody stools
Small polyps (growths that arise on the lining of the colon) and certain other colon conditions can be treated with colonoscopy. A colectomy is the removal of part of the colon (partial colectomy) or the entire colon (total colectomy). Colectomy can be used to treat a variety of diseases, including removal of colon or rectal cancer or large polyps, diverticular disease, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), or bleeding that cannot be stopped. During a laparoscopic colectomy, the surgeon makes several small incisions and removes part of the colon and lymph nodes. The portion of the colon removed depends on the nature of the disease.
Recovery time is dependent on the level of surgical intervention. Your doctor will discuss specific details with you.
The gallbladder stores the bile that the liver produces and then releases it into the main bile duct, where it then drains into the small intestine to assist with digesting fats. If your body is not processing cholesterol correctly, the gallbladder can produce gallstones. Occasionally, the gallbladder will produce symptoms associated with gallstones even if stones are not present (a condition called biliary dyskinesia).
- Back pain
- Shoulder pain
- Pain after eating (specifically in the upper mid or right side of the belly)
Surgery to remove the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) is required due to gallstones or biliary dyskinesia. In a cholecystectomy, the gallbladder is removed laparoscopically via a small incision by the naval.
You may experience right-shoulder pain for the first day or two after surgery. Patients can resume normal activities within one or two weeks. You may experience some food intolerances, though these are usually temporary.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is when acid backflows from the stomach and into the esophagus. This backflow is caused by an abnormally relaxed or weakened valve (the esophageal sphincter) between the stomach and esophagus. Acid in the esophagus can cause frequent heartburn and can damage the esophageal lining. GERD is a clinical condition associated with reflux so severe that the patient is experiencing decreased quality of life or esophageal damage. Some GERD can be treated by lifestyle/diet changes and medication. Diet changes may include avoiding smoking, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, peppermint, citrus, sodas, and fatty foods. Lifestyle changes may include smaller meals, eating more slowly, avoiding eating close to bedtime, raising the head of your bed, and losing excess weight. You can also try over-the-counter antacids. If these changes do not help, surgical treatment may be recommended.
- Frequent heartburn
- Acid taste in back of throat or mouth (bitter- or sour-tasting fluid)
- Pain in upper abdomen
- Worsening symptoms when bending or lying down
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Cough, hoarseness, or sore throat
Laparoscopic fundoplication reinforces the esophageal sphincter, preventing the excessive backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus. In this procedure, the top of the stomach is wrapped around the lower esophagus.
Laparoscopic fundoplication usually requires one night in the hospital. You should be able to return to normal activities within one to two weeks. You should continue to take your anti-reflux medication until your follow-up appointment.
A hernia occurs when an organ, such as the intestines, protrudes through the abdominal wall, causing a bulge. Though hernias can occur in other areas of the body as well, they are most common in the abdominal wall. Coughing, bending, or lifting heavy objects can increase pain associated with hernias. Hernias can be caused by existing weaknesses in the abdominal wall, increased pressure within the abdomen, straining during bowel movements or urination, pregnancy, strenuous activity, or chronic coughing or sneezing.
- A bulge on either side of the pubic bone that becomes more obvious when you stand upright.
- A burning, aching, or “dragging” sensation at the bulge
- Pain or discomfort in the groin area, especially when you cough, bend over, or lift heavy object
- Weakness or pressure in the groin area
If the symptoms above coincide with nausea or vomiting, fever, a suddenly intensifying pain, the darkening or reddening of the hernia bulge, or inability to move bowels or pass gas, call your doctor immediately. These symptoms can be signs of a strangulated hernia, which can be life-threatening.
Abdominal wall reconstruction surgery corrects abdominal weaknesses caused by recurring hernias, injuries, or non-healing wounds. Abdominal wall reconstruction requires moving abdominal tissues to redistribute the abdominal muscles. In some cases, this can be done laparoscopically. Though most hernias are not life-threatening, surgery helps prevent discomfort and potential complications.
Most patients will be able to resume normal work after one week. We recommend waiting at least two weeks to resume normal exercise. Consult with your doctor before resuming any activities.
VATS, which stands for video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, is a minimally invasive technique used to diagnose and treat lung disease and lung cancer. VATS can be used to biopsy suspected cancers or to remove tumors from the lungs.
VATS is done under general anesthesia. You will have a breathing tube inserted during the procedure. During VATS, a small camera and surgical instruments are inserted through small incisions in the chest wall. The camera transmits video images to a monitor, allowing the surgeon to diagnose or treat the problem within the lung.
Recovery time is dependent on the type of surgical intervention deemed appropriate by your doctor.
The spleen is a small organ on the upper left side of the abdomen. It aids the body in fighting infection and filtering the blood. Problems with the spleen include hypersplenism (overactive spleen), ruptured spleen, cyst or abscess, tumors, cancer, blood cell diseases, sickle cell anemia, leukemia, lymphoma, and Hodgkin’s disease.
- Enlarged spleen
- Abnormal blood cell count
- Pain on left side or shoulder
A splenectomy, or removal of the spleen, can be performed via laparoscopic surgery. In a laparoscopic splenectomy, four small incisions are made in the abdomen, and the surgeon inserts a small camera as well as surgical instruments that remove the spleen.
You will likely be able to go home the same day or the day after a laparoscopic splenectomy. You will receive certain immunizations to prevent bacterial illnesses that can occur after spleen removal. You should avoid heavy lifting for at least 2 weeks following the surgery.