Laparoscopy [lap-uh-ROS-kuh-pee] is a surgical procedure that a surgeon performs to examine the inside of the abdomen (belly) and pelvis. It is also a form of treatment. A surgeon makes small incisions to insert surgical instruments, a light, and a camera. Open surgery usually requires a much larger incision.
Laparoscopy can help a doctor view exactly what is happening in your child's abdomen. If there are problems, such as a cyst that needs to be removed, they can be treated immediately. A diagnostic laparoscopy can avoid the need for a larger and more invasive operation later.
Your child's doctor may recommend a laparoscopy to find the cause of:
- Long-term pain
- Abnormal tissue growth
- Disease in the organs of the abdomen or pelvis
It’s important to talk with your child’s doctor about any concerns you have. Write down any questions. Ask your child’s doctor about:
- How the operation will benefit your child
- The risks or problems that can happen with this type of operation
- Other ways of dealing with the problem other than surgery
Laparoscopy is a not a very invasive surgery, but it can still have risks or side effects, such as:
- A risk of bleeding or infection.
- Accidental cuts or nicks of the intestines, other organs, or blood vessels with the surgical instruments.
- A hernia (weak spot) where the cut is made.
Laparoscopy allows the doctor to see what is happening in your child’s body and treat certain conditions. Because the incisions are small, the healing time is usually shorter. Other benefits of laparoscopic [lap-ruh-SKA-pic] surgery, compared to traditional surgery, include:
- Less blood loss
- Reduced risk of infection
- Less pain
- Smaller scars
- Shorter hospital stay
- Quicker return to activity
Before your child’s surgery, you will meet with the surgeon to discuss the procedure. You will also meet with the anesthesiologist [an-uhs-THEE-zee-OL-uh-jist to make a plan. The anesthesiologist will talk to you about the anesthetic that will be given. Ask how it works and how your child should expect to feel after the surgery.
Some general guidelines for surgery may include:
- Not eating or drinking for several hours before a surgical procedure.
- Taking off any jewelry and leaving it at home.
- Taking out any removable dental appliances, such as a retainer, and leaving it at home.
Your child’s doctor will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for laparoscopic surgery.
Most laparoscopic surgeries include these steps:
- Anesthesia is administered so that your child will sleep and not feel anything during the procedure.
- The surgeon makes small incisions (cuts) near the navel.
- A harmless gas is put inside the abdomen to keep the organs separate from each other, which makes it easier to see and work around them.
- The surgeon inserts a laparoscope that has a light and a video camera.
- Small surgical instruments are inserted to help with the procedures.
- The surgeon places a suction tube in the abdomen to extract gas or liquid.
- The doctor uses the laparoscope to see if there is damage or any disease. They might also take a tissue sample (biopsy) to analyze, remove diseased tissue, or repair or remove parts of the organs that are damaged or sick.
- The laparoscope and the instruments are removed, and the gas is extracted by a tube. The incisions are closed with sutures (stitches) or staples.
After the operation:
- Your child will be taken to a recovery area and kept under observation until they wake up from the anesthesia. Then they will be allowed to see family members and friends.
- Your child will still have some gas in the abdomen after surgery. This will cause pressure when sitting. It could cause some discomfort in the neck, chest, or shoulders. It may make your child feel like it’s hard to breathe or make them nauseous. These symptoms are normal and can last several days. Walking contributes to the body absorbing the gas and quickens the recovery.
- Your child will be given pain medicine. When taking the medicine, follow the doctor's instructions. Remember that it is easier to avoid pain than to stop it once it has begun.
- Your child’s incisions may weep a little. The fluid should be transparent or possibly pink. If it is thick, yellow, or has a bad smell, contact the doctor immediately.
Laparoscopy can be done in the hospital or in a surgical center. What the surgeon finds and does during the procedure determines how long it takes.
Talk to your child’s doctor if you have any questions or concerns about the surgery, or if your child has any of the following:
- Redness, swelling, or pus at the incision sites
- Fever that does not go away and exceeds 101° F
- Nausea and vomiting after the first day
- Severe abdominal pain that doesn’t get better with pain medicine
Your child should be seen and evaluated at a follow-up appointment in about 2 to 6 weeks after surgery.
There is a lot you can do to help your child avoid problems after laparoscopy and have a smooth recovery:
- Encourage your child to get up and walk around several times a day. The activity can help them recover faster.
- Your child shouldn’t eat or drink anything heavy if they feel nauseas (want to vomit).
- Your child shouldn’t shower during the first 24 hours (1 day) after surgery. After showering, dry the wounds using soft pats with a towel. Do not take a bath in the tub until the doctor says to do so.
- If your child’s surgical dressings get wet, you can remove them after 24 hours (1 day). If your child has steri-strips, or special tape, on wounds, DO NOT remove them until the doctor says to do so.
- Remind your child to try to take deep breaths after surgery. This may hurt, but breathing deeply can help them recover and avoid complications.
Follow any other instructions your child’s doctor gives you for taking care of your child after the procedure.