Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure where a thin tube with a light and camera on the end, called a laparoscope, is inserted into the patient’s abdomen through a small incision. It can be used as a diagnostic procedure or for performing surgery. This type of surgery is also known as minimally invasive or keyhole surgery. It is advantageous primarily because the smaller incisions cause less pain and require a much shorter recovery time. In contrast, a laparotomy is a procedure where a large incision is made in the abdominal cavity to allow the surgeon access inside the abdominal wall.
Studies show that the total and variable costs and length of hospitalization for patients who undergo a laparoscopy are significantly less than for patients who undergo a laparotomy.
Typically, laparoscopy cost ranges between $1700 and $5000. This depends on a multitude of factors. These factors include the doctor, the facilities, and whether the procedure is diagnostic or is being used to treat a condition. A laparoscopy performed in a hospital typically costs 25% more. Decreases in variable costs, such as length of hospital recovery time and pain medication, versus a laparotomy procedure produce significant savings. Health insurance usually covers this procedure, leaving the patient responsible solely for deductibles and copayments to cover the laparoscopy cost. Laparoscopic procedures that are more complex, however, can cost significantly more than this.
Abdominal laparoscopy is a general term for most laparoscopic procedures. The word laparoscope comes from the Greek work “lapara” meaning flank or loin. A cost related discussion requires the identification of what specific area of the abdomen is being diagnosed or treated. The procedure generally takes anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours, and is done under general anesthesia. Some mild pain can be expected for up to seven days after the procedure. Studies conducted related to abdominal and laparoscopic hysterectomies show that the direct costs for the laparoscopic surgeries tend to be higher, but the indirect costs can be half that of abdominal hysterectomies.
The use of exploratory laparoscopy has been essential for surgeons treating abdominal illness or abdominal trauma. It is a diagnostic procedure that allows the surgeon to examine the contents of the abdomen. When performed on an outpatient basis, the overall laparoscopy cost is substantially reduced. Remember that insurance will cover this type of surgery. Diagnostic laparoscopy can be used to detect appendicitis, cholecystitis (inflammation of the gall bladder), ectopic pregnancy, and certain cancers. It can also be done following an accident instead of a laparotomy to see if there are any injuries to the internal organs. Exploratory laparoscopic surgery is considered an essentially efficient and cost effective way to diagnose and treat acute abdominal illnesses and trauma.
Laparoscopic procedures are the most common method of diagnosing and treating endometriosis. It is usually done on an outpatient basis, but hospital stays of one day are not that uncommon. The cost of a laparoscopy for endometriosis varies geographically, but is covered by insurance. Studies indicate that 75% to 100% of women experience some relief from pain during the first months following the surgery. However, 45% experience a return of symptoms after one year, and this number increases over time.
The most common laparoscopic procedure is a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. A cholecystectomy is the removal of the gall bladder by surgery, and is the most common method for treating gall stones.
The presence of gall stones is a serious medical condition that can be life threatening. Costs for this surgery vary widely geographically, but the national average is around $11,500. A cholecystectomy can be performed by either open or laparoscopic surgery, but the minimally invasive procedure is used in 80 % of cases. . Open gall bladder surgery can require a hospital stay of up to three days, and patients are advised not to return to work for four to six weeks. With the laparoscopic procedure, normal activities can generally be resumed within three days.
In a laparoscopy procedure, small incisions are made in the patient’s abdomen for the insertion of thin tubes with video cameras and other surgical devices. The abdominal cavity is inflated with carbon dioxide to create space for the surgeon to work in. The camera sends images to a video monitor in the operating room. The surgeon manipulates the surgical instruments while viewing the monitor. In the case of laser surgery, the surgeon watched the monitor and aims the laser at the affected areas. For gall bladder removal, the surgeon identifies and cuts away the gall bladder and removes it from one of the small incisions in the abdomen. Because the muscles of the abdominal wall do not need to be cut, the patient experiences much less discomfort and much quicker healing than with open surgery. The lack of large incisions also improves the cosmetic results with no large scarring on the abdomen. Several new robotic tools are being developed and made available. This had interesting implications in underdeveloped nations as these systems will be able to be operated remotely from a central hospital, allowing quality care to be made available to distant locations. It also has military applications, allowing for mobile surgical care while keeping surgeons safely removed from the battlefield.
The use of laser technology for laparoscopic procedures has proven successful in the treatment of certain conditions such as endometriosis. This procedure can last as long as one hour, and requires a second incision so the surgeon can insert a surgical laser device. The laser is a very precise surgical tool, and effectively burns off cysts and removes adhesions with minimal damage to the surrounding tissue. The use of a laser as a laparoscopic tool is widely regarded as a reasonable way for doctors to reduce the cost of a laparoscopy without compromising the quality of patient care. Laser surgery produces excellent results while reducing both operating room time and recovery time. Risks associated with this type of surgery are seen as less than with open surgery. There is more than one type of laser to choose from, but results from the carbon dioxide laser seem to be best in relation to pain relief and fertility. Insurance will almost always cover laser laparoscopy cost, but insurance plans vary as to their coverage.