Keyhole Surgery also known as Minimally Invasive Surgery is surgery performed using long thin instruments inserted into the body through small cuts (incisions). These small incisions, which are typically 5 – 10mm in length, replace the traditional long incision (which can extend over 30cm).
Keyhole surgery is becoming more and more common, and in some areas is used almost exclusively. The advantages in avoiding larger incisions (cuts) include reduced post-operative pain, reduced pain related complications and shorter duration of hospital stay. In the long term there is much less scarring both internally and externally, and the cosmetic result is much better. In most surgeries the keyhole approach allows a much quicker return to work.
Surgery with this technique into the abdomen is called ‘Laparoscopy’ or Laparoscopic Surgery, and into the thorax (chest) is call ‘Thoracoscopy’ or Thoracoscopic Surgery.
Very uncommonly keyhole surgery is initially performed, but for reasons such as poor access to the operative area or poor vision, the keyhole surgery may need to be converted to an ‘open’ larger cut to complete the operation safely and successfully.
Laparoscopic surgery refers to keyhole surgery when performed on the abdomen. This is slowly becoming the standard technique for most surgeries including removal of the gallbladder, removal of the appendix, removal of the colon and many other operations.
All the advantages of keyhole surgery including less pain, less scarring, quicker healing and quicker return to work apply to laparoscopic surgery.
Although most surgeries performed by Melbourne Gastro Oesophageal Surgery are performed laparoscopically, you should speak with your surgeon about your specific situation.
Keyhole Surgery can also be used for operations involving the chest, where again it is a very useful way to avoid a larger incision. It can be especially useful in the chest, as operations requiring a full size incision also often require a rib to be broken to gain adequate access. Obviously this has implications in the amount of post-operative pain that is experienced. The main kinds of surgery performed by the Melbourne Gastro-Oesophageal Surgeons in the thorax are related to diseases of the oesophagus.
The appropriateness of thoracoscopic surgery rather than an ‘open’ (larger) incision depends on the surgical condition and your medical history. Your individual situation should be discussed with your surgeon.