Laparoscopy for digestive problems

What is laparoscopy?

Sometimes called keyhole surgery, laparoscopy is a procedure that allows your consultant to diagnose and treat conditions affecting your abdomen and pelvis using a camera inserted through a small cut in the abdominal wall. A diagnostic laparoscopy will help to diagnose your problem, allowing your doctor to suggest management and treatments specific to you.

Laparoscopic surgery can be used to treat complications of conditions including:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Diverticulitis
  • Familial polyposis, a condition causing multiple colon polyps that puts you at higher risk of colorectal cancer
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Rectal prolapse, a protrusion of the rectum through the anus
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Colon polyps that are too large to remove by colonoscopy
  • Chronic severe constipation that is not successfully treated with medication

What happens during laparoscopy

During a laparoscopy, a small incision (0.5-1cm) is made near to the belly button and a small tube is passed through the abdominal wall, which allows a laparoscope (camera) to inspect the abdominal cavity. Carbon dioxide gas is used to distend the abdominal cavity to create space to allow your doctor to see the abdominal structures more clearly. Extra incisions (cuts) may be made to allow placement of other instruments to allow careful inspection of the abdominal cavity. F

At the end of the procedure, the carbon dioxide gas is released and the incisions are closed by absorbable sutures (stitches).

A diagnostic laparoscopy usually takes no more than 30 minutes and is performed under general anaesthesia, but local anaesthetic is usually administered into the skin to reduce post-operative pain.