Modern medical professionals such as gastrointestinal surgeons often use laparoscopy to diagnose disorders of the digestive tract and treat them efficiently. Instead of the traditional open surgeries, GI surgeons prefer laparoscopic abdominal surgeries because the latter ensures faster recovery, less bleeding, and reduced scarring. It is often an outpatient procedure which means the patient can get permission to leave on the same day, thus, reducing cost for the patient and the hospital.
If your GI surgeon has recommended a GI laparoscopy to diagnose/treat a gastrointestinal disorder, you may have several questions to ask. Find all your answers here.
1. When is Laparoscopy performed by the GI Surgeon?
a. Diagnostic Laparoscopy
When the patient is affected by abdominal pain, swelling, or any other anomaly of the GI tract and the imaging techniques (CT scan/MRI/Ultrasound) do not provide enough insights; diagnostic laparoscopy may become necessary.
The surgeon can use the laparoscopic technique to diagnose a problem with several organs of the GI tract: gallbladder, common bile duct, appendix, small intestine, large intestine (colon), spleen, pancreas, liver, stomach, and rectum. It will provide a clear vision of the internal organs and detect tumors or fluid in them.
b. Operative Laparoscopic Procedures
The GI surgeon can also conduct operative laparoscopic procedures: liver resection, cholecystectomy, GI cancer surgery, appendectomy, pancreatic surgery, colorectal surgery, gastric bypass, bariatric surgery, hernial repair, etc., with the help of a laparoscope. The use of laparoscopy is not limited to gastroenterology. It is also impactful in the field of gynecology and urology.
2. What is the Procedure of the Laparoscopy?
During the minimally-invasive GI operation, the doctor will make small incisions of approximately 0.5 inches and insert the laparoscope with a tiny camera at the end for a distinct view of the organs. He/she will use the laparoscope and other medical equipment to operate on the patient. This way, the patient does not need to suffer through large incisions, and it also ensures a quicker recovery period.
Once you receive general anesthesia, the surgeon will make an incision around the affected organ and use a cannula to inflate the abdominal cavity with CO2 gas. The reason behind it is that the gas expands the region and allows for more room to conduct the surgery. The laparoscope displays images on the computer to show your organs in real-time.
If the doctor has chosen the technique of laparoscopy to carry out a surgical procedure, he/she will make two to four incisions for the surgery. After the procedure is over, the medical professional will remove the medical equipment, stitch the incisions and allow for the patient to recover.
Usually, when the doctor usually laparoscopy to diagnose a condition, it may take an hour to complete the procedure. But, when he/she is conducting a surgery along with laparoscopy, the duration may increase.
3. What things to keep in mind before a Laparoscopic Surgery?
When your doctor recommends an abdominal laparoscopic procedure, it is essential to inform him/her about any medications that you take. For example, if you are taking blood thinners, anti-inflammatory drugs, or herbal supplements, it can lead to excess blood loss. So, discuss everything related to your medications in detail and find out if you need to change the dosage before the surgery and during the recovery period. It is best to mention if you are pregnant.
The doctor may advise you to stop smoking for days leading up to the operation because it can lead to delayed healing. He/she will also recommend a few tests before the surgery that include blood tests, urine tests, chest X-ray, imaging tests, etc. to improve the efficacy of laparoscopy.
Often, the doctors suggest avoiding food and drinks before 8 hours of the scheduled surgery. Additionally, you will need someone to drop you off at home after the surgery as you may be under the effect of general anesthesia and may feel sleepy.
4. What is the Recovery Time for a Laparoscopy?
Once your surgery is over, the doctor may keep you under observation to check on your health. Whether you ready to go home in a couple of hours or you need to stay in the hospital overnight will depend on the complexity of the surgery, the type of anesthesia provided to you, your overall condition, etc.
After the surgery, you may feel disoriented and tired as the effects of anesthesia wear off. It is best to consume a light meal on the day of the surgery. Often patients complain of a sore throat if the doctor uses a breathing tube during the procedure. However, do not worry about it because a few painkillers will ease the pain.
Once you are home and recovering from the laparoscopic surgery, you may have shoulder pain caused by the CO2 gas in the procedure. You may notice some amount of bloating for a couple of days. You might also feel pain at the location of incisions.
After consulting your GI surgeon and ensuring regular follow-ups, you can resume normal routine activities within a week.
5. How to ensure Smooth Recovery from Laparoscopic Surgery?
For faster and more efficient recovery from your surgery, consult your GI surgeon for accurate medical advice that suits your condition. However, there are a few general tips that you can follow when recovering from abdominal laparoscopy.
- Re-read the guidelines provided by your doctor and follow them carefully.
- You may take showers after your surgery but avoid long baths.
- Do not forget to clean the wounds and adhere to a strict dressing schedule.
- Ensure a healthy and fresh diet that allows for faster recovery.
- Do not drive, lift heavy equipment, or exercise strenuously without clearance from your doctor.
- After 24 hours of the surgery, there is no need for bed rest. You can go for walks to avoid the risk of blood clots. It also helps with regular bowel movements.
- Rest more than usual and follow a dedicated sleeping routine.
- Do not miss out on follow-up appointments even if you feel better.
- Wear loose clothes to avoid any irritation to the wounds.
- Avoid swimming and getting into a hot tub for at least two weeks.
- If you notice signs of infections such as high fever, oozing pus, unbearable pain, or bleeding, do not be afraid to reach out to your doctor.
Laparoscopy is a safe procedure to diagnose and treat several medical conditions. However, you need to have adequate knowledge and detailed understanding of the procedure to ensure faster recovery and better health. So, do not shy away from asking questions to your surgical gastroenterologist and trust his/her advice for a successful surgical procedure.