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What is Keyhole Surgery?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 10 Sep 2015 | comments*Discuss
Keyhole Surgery Laparoscopic Surgery

Keyhole surgery, which is also known as ‘minimally invasive surgery’, has sometimes been referred to as the greatest surgical advancement since anaesthetic since its introduction which came about as information technology made tiny cameras which could be inserted into the body working alongside computers possible.

There are many different types of conventional surgical procedure which can now be performed using keyhole surgery and the benefits to the patient are quite significant. These include less pain, minimal scarring, quicker recovery post operation and a faster resumption of normal everyday activities.

What Does Keyhole Surgery Entail?

Depending upon the area of the body where keyhole surgery is being performed, about 3 or 4 tiny incisions (sometimes even fewer), usually only around 10mm each, are made into which a special channel or tube is inserted. This is known as a ‘port’ and via this port, a special viewing instrument called an endoscope is passed through.

This will have a powerful light source on the end of it and will work like a telescopic camera projecting images from inside the body onto a TV monitor which the surgeon can look at so that he can see exactly what the problem is and what needs to be fixed. In addition to the camera, the surgeon can also pass one or a series of specialised, miniature surgical instruments through either the same port or a different port (which would require a further incision(s) depending upon the procedure which is being carried out.

The technology means that the surgeon can operate the equipment from outside of the body whilst looking at the monitor. Endoscopes vary in size and design depending upon the area of the body which is being operated on. Some are rigid and others more flexible and you may be familiar with the term ‘laparoscopy’. This originates from ‘laparoscope’ which is the specialised tool used to perform keyhole surgery within the abdominal area.

What Procedures Can Be Performed Using Keyhole Surgery?

As the technology becomes even more sophisticated, it has been adopted as the recognised procedure for a whole range of surgery which would have previously required you to be opened up with a traditional scalpel. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Hernia repairs
  • Gall bladder removal
  • Certain cases of hysterectomy
  • Appendix removal (appendectomy)
  • Cruciate ligament replacement

After The Operation

The extent of the surgery will determine how soon you will be able to go home after the operation. However as an example, where cruciate ligament replacement surgery would previously have meant you’d remain in hospital for a week or even longer, with keyhole surgery it is normal to go home after an overnight stay or after 2 days at the most. Scarring is minimal and any open wound should heal very quickly.


As this is a general article encompassing the whole keyhole surgery spectrum, it’s not appropriate to second guess how long it would be before you could go back to work and resume all of your normal activities. Suffice to say, however, that any keyhole procedure will enable you to recover more quickly than any traditional method of surgery which would have been used previously.

Your GP or surgeon will be able to offer you more advice about keyhole surgery and whether it’s an option for your particular condition and they will also be able to answer any further questions you may have as well as being able to provide you with leaflets and other information.

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nlp - Your Question:
Hi, I've just had keyhole surgery on Sunday just gone.I was wondering if there is anything I can do to speed the healing process?TIA

Our Response:
People have different recovery times dependent upon the type of operation, age, health and their ability to heal quickly or not. However, as specified in the article keyhole surgery is minimally invasive and you should be on your feet far quicker than you would be after a conventional operation. As with all operations plenty of R and R is the best route to a healthy recovery. Wishing you a speedy one.
AboutOperations - 11-Sep-15 @ 2:09 PM
Hi, I've just had keyhole surgery on Sunday just gone. I was wondering if there is anything I can do to speed the healing process? TIA
nlp - 10-Sep-15 @ 9:12 PM
@Yorkypps - weight loss surgery is not compulsary and can only be recommended. Here is some information about the procedure via the NHS which will give you more information. link here. I assume you have not yet been referred to a consultant? If you are, they will go through the process and will attempt to ease your concerns. However, according to the NHS, even if you are eligible for weight loss surgery, the demand for this surgery on the NHS is currently higher than the supply in many areas of the country. Therefore, there may be a considerable waiting list. I hope this helps.
AboutOperations - 28-Nov-14 @ 12:08 PM
Hi i'm really worried because my GP and weight management clinic say I have to have Gastric bypass can this be done by keyhole Surgery? or do I have to go under the surgeons knife? this really scares me as I have never had surgery before
yorkypps - 27-Nov-14 @ 11:01 PM
deedee - 9-Sep-12 @ 9:43 PM
hello, I have few fibroids and am due for the keyhole op end of this month . Thefibroids vary in size , biggest being 10 cm and 6cm. I am quite confident to gothrough this procedure , except that the worrying part is that if theendoscope reveals other issues were an immediate opne surgery will be performed. Could i have your best advise on thisplease. I am 51 years old , withone kid.
Ms T - 29-Aug-12 @ 4:40 AM
Hi I got problem with my left shoulder my go referred me to shoulder clinic doctor advicesx rays which is clear then I had Altra sound that is clear as well but I am suffering the same cant pick anything more than 5,6 kg. there is constant pain & look like needles pinching in my shoulder and left arm. Can some one advise me anything please. Regards
Saleem - 27-Aug-12 @ 11:08 AM
I have had successful spinal fusion on L4 to L5. Due to negligence on my part a year after surgery, I developed a herniated disc between L3 and L4which showed up clearly on an MRI scan.This caused severe spinal stenosis resulting in backache and numbness in my right leg if I stand for any length of time. My surgeon recommended a discectomy to remove the protruding part of the offending disc. A doctor friend suggested that I investigate keyhole surgery to correct the problem. There is a specialist in our area that does this operation. What is your opinion? Kind Regards.
George - 7-Sep-11 @ 9:36 AM
I am due to have the above operation and found the infomation provided very useful, it gave me more visual understanding of what this intails.Thank you.
sis - 24-Aug-11 @ 11:24 AM
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