Minimally invasive surgery can be performed on most parts of the body. When minimally invasive surgery is on bones or joints, it is called arthroscopic surgery. In the chest, heart or lungs it may be simply called minimally invasive surgery. In the abdomen and pelvis, it is laparoscopic surgery.
What is Laparoscopic Surgery?
Laparoscopic surgery involves making a few very small incisions in the abdomen through which the doctor places trocars (long, hollow, metal or plastic tubes). These tubes then act as tunnels, though which the surgeon passes instruments for cutting, grasping, stapling or suturing. The surgeon also passes a cable that allows her to see the surgical field on a monitor. Tumors or diseased organs can be surgically separated from the structures that hold them in place, and then can be removed through one of the small incisions. During a laparoscopic hysterectomy, the uterus can be removed through the vagina after it has been freed up laparoscopically.
Laparoscopic surgery may also involve the use of robots. DaVinci is one of the brands that we see used in robotic or robot assisted laparoscopic surgery. When a robot is utilized, it performs some parts of the operation that the surgeon otherwise would perform by hand.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Laparoscopic Surgery
There are advantages associated with laparoscopic surgery. Because the incisions are small, and human hands have less contact with the patient’s organs, there is less postoperative pain than with traditional, “open” surgery. The risk of bleeding and infection is lower, and recovery time is shorter.
Although there are many advantages to laparoscopic surgery, there are also risks. Because the operator is not looking directly at the surgical field, but rather viewing it on a monitor with the aid of a focused fiber-optic lens, it is possible that something could be missed. Trocars can also unintentionally perforate blood vessels or organs and, sometimes, tumors or organs prove to be too big to simply remove through a small incision.
A Surgeon’s Responsibilities
The surgeon performing the laparoscopic surgery is supposed to examine the whole surgical field before ending the procedure, to ensure that nothing was missed. If a trocar pierced something unintentionally, identifying it right away may allow for successful repair without long lasting consequences.
Precautionary measures are also taken before the procedure even begins. In case a specimen (tumor or organ) is too large to be removed through a small incision, the surgeon must have a Plan B ready. One option is to convert the laparoscopic procedure to a traditional, open operation, or to slightly enlarge an incision to accommodate the bulky specimen. Another option is to decrease the size of the mass by cutting it into pieces. Some surgeons place the mass into a bag before cutting it into smaller pieces, and then remove the bag containing all the pieces through the small opening. If a mass turns out to be malignant (cancerous), this can be very dangerous. If parts of the cancerous lesion drop into the abdomen or pelvis, cancer can then grow in the places where the pieces landed. In such cases, cancer than may have been cured by removal can actually be spread by the surgeon.
Laparoscopic Surgery Lawsuits
When we analyze a case involving laparoscopic surgery, the medical malpractice attorneys at Keches Law Group start by asking whether it was the right approach for this particular patient with this particular problem. If something went wrong during the operation, we investigate the training of the surgeon, and the integrity of any robotic devices that were used. Most of the time, our focus in this type of case is on the response and response time of the individual healthcare providers to signs of trouble. If the patient complained of unusual postoperative pain, did the surgeon consider that something could have been perforated, a stitch or staple come loose, or that an infection may be brewing? Did she evaluate correctly? Did she even see the patient?
Rarely does a doctor write, “I just made a mistake” in the medical record, but we must accept the record as evidence. We cannot simply overlook it, but, as medical malpractice attorneys, we read between the lines. We look at the results of labs and imaging studies, we talk to witnesses, and we consult with experts in the field. If a patient was injured as a result of negligently performed laparoscopic surgery or post-surgical care, we will prosecute the case against the offending surgeon. If you or a loved one has suffered from negligence during a laparoscopic surgery, don’t hesitate to call Keches Law Group today.
The medical malpractice department at Keches Law Group can help you figure out whether you have a case, and what steps to take next. Call Keches Law Group at 617-898-0808 for a free consultation today, or visit us online.