Laparoscopic Surgery :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

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Laparoscopic Surgery

Laparoscopic surgery is a procedure your child’s doctor uses to avoid major surgery and a long healing time after surgery.  For this kind of surgery, the doctor inserts small, hollow tubes, called cannulas, through small slits (incisions) in your child’s skin.  Then special instruments are placed inside the tubes. These instruments let the doctor see inside and operate on your child.

Understanding Your Child’s Surgery

Your child will be given medicine to make him sleep. Three to five small slits will be made in his abdomen: The slits are made near his belly button, each side of the belly and above or below the belly button, depending on the type of surgery (Picture 1). A tube is put into one of the slits and the abdomen is filled with carbon dioxide to make room for the surgeon to operate. A small telescope called a laparoscope is put through one of the tubes. A picture of your child’s insides is shown on a television screen in the Operating Room. The surgeon uses the tubes at the other sites to insert instruments to do the surgery.

Image of incisions

After the Surgery

  • Your child will wake up in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) near the surgery area. He or she may be in the PACU for 1 to 2 hours. 
  • As soon as your child recovers from the anesthetic, he will be taken back to his room. 
  • Your child will receive needed fluids and medicines, such as antibiotics and pain medicines, through an IV (intravenous line). Pain medicine will be taken by mouth when he is able to sip liquids.
  • Your child will need to get up and walk around soon after surgery.  This will help to “wake up” the bowels, and help with breathing and blood circulation.

Nutrition

Your child will be allowed to eat when there are signs the bowel is working (passing gas, a bowel movement or “growling” sounds in the belly). This is usually a few hours after surgery. When allowed to eat, your child will be given clear liquids such as water, Jell-O®, popsicles, 7-Up®, fruit punch and broth. If he has no problems drinking clear liquids, he will be allowed to have a regular meal.

Care of the Incision

  • Your child will have 3 to 5 small slits in his skin. The slit near the belly button may have a gauze and tape dressing. The dressing may be removed 3 to 4 days after surgery. If there are small strips of white tape (called Steri-Strips™) or a clear dressing (Opsite™) under this dressing, leave them in place.
  • The other sites will have Steri-Strips™ on the incision. These strips will fall off on their own in 1 to 2 weeks. Do not remove them unless your child’s doctor says it is okay.
  • Your child may not go swimming or take tub baths for 2 weeks.
  • Showers are allowed.  Incision sites should be dried well after the shower.

Activity

Your child should play quietly for the first week at home or until he sees the doctor at his follow-up appointment. This means no heavy lifting, no vigorous activities, no running, swimming or bike riding.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your child’s doctor for any of the following:

  • Any of the incision sites become reddened
  • Fluid or blood around any of the slits
  • An incision becomes more tender or swollen, or it begins to separate (pull apart)
  • Vomiting
  • Fever over 101 degrees by mouth or 102 degrees rectally (in the child’s bottom)
  • Abdomen becomes distended (full and firm) or your child acts if he has belly pain
  • Your child cannot have a bowel movement
  • Any other questions or concerns

Laparoscopic Surgery (PDF)

HH-I-283 7/08 Copyright 2008, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

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