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Keyhole Surgery

Keyhole surgery, also known as minimally invasive surgery, is a modern surgical technique in which operations are performed through small incisions of 0.5 - 1.5 cms. Keyhole procedures within the abdomen or pelvis are known as laparoscopic, whilst those on the thorax or chest cavity are called thorascopic. 

The operation is performed using a laparoscope, a hollow narrow tube with a light source and a camera connected to a video monitor, allowing the surgeon and assistants a magnified view of the surgery.  Intruments may also be passed down the laparoscope for cutting and clipping.  Once the laparoscope is in place, carbon dioxide is introduced into the body to inflate the area and create space in which the surgeon can operate. Specialist instruments may also be used through additional separate small hollow tubes (trocars), each inserted through its own tiny incision (port).

There are several advantages to keyhole surgery versus open surgery for the patient:

  • smaller incisions reducing pain and recovery time
  • reduced bleeding
  • reduced exposure to infections
  • shorter time in hospital due to faster recovery period
  • reduction in internal scarring (adhesions)

Keyhole surgery does carry some risk particularly during the initial insertion when damage to blood vessels or organs may occur, especially in obese patients.  If problems arise, the surgeon may convert to open surgery if appropriate. Many procedures are now routinely performed with keyhole surgery:

Advocates of keyhole surgery are now using their skills to perform bowel and bowel cancer surgery, prostate, kidney, adrenal gland, lung and even cardiac surgery.

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