Traditionally, all colorectal surgery (surgery performed on bowel) was done through a large cut on the abdomen. With laparoscopic surgery, the same operations to remove part of or the complete large bowel can be carried out through small cuts on the abdomen. The procedures can be carried out for cancer of the bowel, as well as for non-cancerous conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and diverticular disease.
Different procedures on the bowel are performed by laparoscopic techniques including a segmental removal (e.g. right hemicolectomy or removal of the right colon), a total removal (a total colectomy with or without removal of the rectum), removal of the rectum (anterior resection or an abdominoperineal resection for low rectal cancers, which involves removal of the rectum and the anal canal or the back passage.) Procedures like rectopexy used for prolapse of the rectum are also performed laparoscopically.
There is evidence now that the outcome following laparoscopic surgery for bowel cancer is the same as that following open surgery. However, laparoscopic surgery may not be suitable for certain patients, or due to the nature of their disease.
Patients recover a lot quicker than open surgery. These patients take part in the Enhanced Recovery Programme, which is a multimodality programme that helps in patient recovery.