Understanding Pediatric Laparoscopic Surgery

Laparoscopy (pronounced lap-a-ross-coe-pee) is a surgical procedure commonly used in pediatric patients due to the limited operating space in comparison to fully grown adults. This procedure utilizes thin, fine instruments inserted through small incisions. In addition, a camera is inserted that provides the surgeon with a clear view of the interior of the patient’s abdominal cavity via a digital monitor. This laparoscope uses lenses, similar to those on a telescope, to magnify the structures and organs within the body while providing bright illumination to the working space.

Pediatric Laparoscopic Surgery – Minimally Invasive with a Massive Impact

While this type of surgery is referred to as minimally invasive surgery due to the small incisions used during the procedure, there are major procedures performed on pediatric patients as well as adults using laparoscopic surgery. The term actually refers to minimally invasive procedures performed on the abdomen. The name changes depending on the location. For example, for the chest wall the procedure is known as thoracoscopic. For the joints it’s arthroscopy and for any procedure performed through a natural opening like the mouth or nose it’s called endoscopy.

Many procedures once commonly performed through open surgery – a large cut in the abdomen – can now be performed using these small incisions and laparoscopy. For some procedures such as bowel resection, and the treatment of gallbladder disease, laparoscopy is the preferred surgical technique.

Pediatric Laparoscopic Surgery – Diagnosis and Treatment

While many surgical procedures are done to treat an existing condition, surgery is sometimes necessary to confirm a diagnosis when other methods don’t provide a solid answer or clear path to recovery. In cases where surgery is needed, minimally invasive surgery – especially in pediatrics – can allow a doctor to quickly look at small structures inside the abdomen to check for abnormalities without the need for open surgery and long recovery periods.

In some emergency departments, pediatric laparoscopic surgery is used to decide on treatment options for trauma patients, as the procedure is a viable way to quickly check for internal bleeding and other problems that may not be readily detectable.

Anesthesia and Pediatric Laparoscopic Surgery

During normal open surgery patients are often put under general anesthesia. Despite the minimally invasive nature of this surgery, patients are often still placed under general anesthesia and are unconscious during the operation. While local anesthesia can be an effective pain blocker, general anesthesia completely relaxes the muscles and makes it easier for the surgeon to work within the abdomen.

There are some procedures that use a local anesthesia. A caregiver will discuss the nature of the operation with the patient or their family and let them know what types of treatment will be used and which procedures are performed.

Recovery After Pediatric Laparoscopic Surgery

Recover can vary depending on the operative procedure. Some are so simple that a patient can be discharged after just a few hours. Others, such as small bowel resection, may require several days for the purpose of monitoring. Even in cases such as this, the recovery time is still greatly reduced thanks to the small incisions used during pediatric laparoscopic surgery.