Surgical Endoscopy

, Volume 8, Issue 11, pp 1272–1284 | Cite as

Laparoscopic surgery—anesthetic implications

  • A. J. Cunningham


Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a relatively new surgical procedure which is enjoying everincreasing popularity and presenting new anesthetic challenges. The advantages of shorter hospital stay and more rapid return to normal activities are combined with less pain associated with the small limited incisions and less postoperative ileus compared with the traditional open cholecystectomy. The efficacy of laparoscopic appendectomy and hemicolectomy has been recently evaluated. However, there have been no prospective randomized studies to date comparing laparoscopic with traditional laparotomy techniques. The physiological effects of prolonged pneumoperitoneum and the longer duration of surgery with the laparoscopic techniques are of concern. The application of laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair may be limited because, unlike traditional surgical hepair, general anesthesia is required and concerns have been expressed about the duration of surgery and the possibility of hernia recurrence. Notwithstanding case reports and series describing successful diaphragmatic and hiatus hernia repair using a laparoscopic surgical technique, the frequently encountered complications of cervical surgical emphysema, pneumothorax, and pneumomediastinum, attributed to passage of insufflating gas through weak points or defects in the diaphragm, must be of major concern. Anesthesiologists must maintain a high index of suspicion for these potential complication and must undertake appropriate monitoring. If there is clinical evidence of a tension pneumothorax, immediate chest tube decompression is indicated.

Intraoperative complications of laparoscopic surgery are mostly due to traumatic injuries sustained during blind trocar insertion and physiological changes associated with patient positioning and pneumoperitoneum creation. The choice of anesthetic technique for upper abdominal laparoscopic procedures is most frequently limited to general anesthesia. Controlled ventilation avoids hypercarbia, and an anesthetic technique incorporating antiemetics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents has reduced postoperative nausea and vomiting following laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The use of nitrous oxide during laparoscopic procedures remains controversial.

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a major advance in the management of patients with symptomatic gallbladder disease. However, in the present era of cost containment, older and sicker patients may present for this procedure on the day of surgery without adequate preoperative evaluation. Anesthesiologists should thus be prepared to recommend deflation of the pneumoperitoneum and possibly conversion to an open procedure if hemodynamic, oxygenation, or ventilation difficulties arise during the procedure.

Key words

Anesthesia Laparoscopy Intraabdominal 


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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. J. Cunningham
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnaesthesiaRoyal College of Surgeons in IrelandDublin 2Ireland

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