Laparoscopic bowel surgery

This is removal of the appendix or bowel through keyhole surgery.

Q: What symptoms would I experience with this problem?

With appendicitis you get pain on the right lower side of you abdomen. This may be associated with vomiting and fever.  With bowel cancer, this may have been detected at colonoscopy or CT scan.  

Q: How do I know for sure that I have the condition therefore you need this operation?

You will usually be quite unwell with appendicitis.  The surgeon will examine you to confirm the diagnosis.

Q: What scar will I have and what does the procedure involve?

For appendicectomy with keyhole surgery, there are 3 scars - one around the belly button, one below that and one on the left lower side of your abdomen.  This allows the camera and instruments to be inserted for the operation.  With a bowel resection, you may have 1 or 2 more scars on the left side of your abdomen for extra instruments to be inserted.  Should the keyhole surgery be not possible for any reason, you may have a scar measuring 8-10cm on the right lower side of the abdomen for appendicectomy, or a scar running down vertically in the midline of your abdomen. This is then called open surgery.

Q: What anaesthetic will I have and do I have a choice?

You will need a general anaesthetic.

Q: What are the possible complications and what are the chances that they will occur?

If you are otherwise healthy, the risk of complications is very low.  Even when a segment of bowel needs to be removed and joined together, the risk of the join leaking is usually very low.  If the surgeon decides that the risk of leakage at the join is too high, you may have to have a temporary "bag" (stoma) and the join is made at a later date. 

Q: What can I expect after the operation?

If it is just your appendix that is removed then usually you should be able to go home the next day.  Otherwise you may have to be in hospital a few days for monitoring.  

Q: Should I not be doing certain things after the operation?

We would recommend no heavy lifting after the operation to prevent hernias from developing at the site of the scar.

Q: How long should I be off work?

You should have at least 1 week off work.  If your surgery is more extensive then you may require a longer period of time off.

Q: When will I see my surgeon for review?

Your surgeon will see you within 2 weeks after the operation.