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Laparoscopy

What Are The Possible Risks Of Laparoscopy?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 17:51

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Since laparoscopy involves minimal damage to body tissues, it is generally safer than open operations. In diagnostic laparoscopy, for instance, complications occur in about three out of every 1,000 operations, a significantly lower number than traditional surgery. A complication is an unforeseen problem that occurs during or after surgery, such as internal bleeding or injury to a healthy organ.

Possible Complications Of Laparoscopy

  • Risks for any type of surgery may be greater for people who are obese, smoke cigarettes, or have additional health problems.
  • Laparoscopy usually requires general anesthesia, which carries certain risks. Modern general anesthesia, however, is safe and reactions are rare. The individual must be sure to tell the doctor if he or she had a bad reaction to anesthesia in the past, or if a close family member has experienced such a reaction.
  • Injury to blood vessels or organs, which causes bleeding.
  • Damage to ducts or other structures that allow body fluids to leak out.

Sometimes the surgery cannot be successfully completed by laparoscopy. Then the doctor may have to complete the operation using traditional "open" abdominal surgery, called laparotomy. This is called "converting" to laparotomy.

Nice To Know:

Q. The doctor says there is a chance that she will have to "convert" to a laparotomy - "open" surgery with the larger incision - after starting it with belly button surgery. Why could that be necessary?

A: Even the most experienced doctors sometimes find that they cannot complete an operation as planned with the laparoscope. There are several reasons why the doctor might have to change or convert to an open operation. The patient's disease, for instance, may turn out to be different or more extensive than originally thought. Organs may not be in their normal position in the body. Patients who had previous surgery in the same area may have developed scar tissue that makes it difficult for the doctor to work with a laparoscope. Bleeding, leakage of body fluids, or other problems that require open surgery may occur during the laparoscopy.

Laparoscopy