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What is laparoscopic surgery?

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Quick Answer

Laparoscopic surgery, or minimally invasive surgery, is a specialized technique in which surgery is performed with the aid of a video camera and thin instruments, according to the Center for Pancreatic and Biliary Diseases. The camera and instruments are placed through incisions up to half an inch in size.

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An image of the organs inside the abdomen is transmitted to a television monitor where the surgeon can directly see inside the patient's body to perform the procedure. Hand-assisted laparoscopy involves the use of a special type of port that is large enough for a hand. In this instance, the incision is still smaller than one that is made for traditional surgery, notes the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.

Intestinal surgeries, including those for Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, rectal prolapse and diverticulitis, can be performed using laparoscopy, and studies have shown that laparoscopic surgery is safe for certain colorectal cancers, adds the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Laparoscopic surgery is done to check for abnormal growth in the abdomen or pelvis; to find causes for a patient's infertility; to check for and treat endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease; and to perform a tubal ligation. A laparoscopic surgery can usually be done without requiring overnight inpatient care, according to WebMD.

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