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Keyhole Surgery
Keyhole Image

Keyhole surgery

Do Darent Valley Hospital offer keyhole surgery?

Yes, the hospital has been offering keyhole surgery since 1990 (previously at Joyce Green Hospital) and was one of the first hospital’s in the UK to offer this form of surgery.

What is keyhole surgery?

Keyhole or laparoscopic surgery as it is also known is a method of carrying out an operation without having to make a large incision. Many different types of operations can now be carried out using keyhole surgery as shown below. This type of surgery reduces the length of time you need to stay in hospital and leaves little scarring. Large incisions of traditional open surgery, associated with pain and scarring are avoided, and the same procedures are carried out but through miniature incisions with the use of advanced medical technology and precision instruments.

What procedures are carried out via keyhole surgery?

  • Hernia repairs - inguinal, femoral, incisional and para-stomal.
  • Fundoplication for reflux symptoms.
  • Cholecystectomy (removal of gallbladder).
  • Splenectomy (removal of spleen) .
  • Appendicectomy (removal of appendix) .
  • Rectal prolapse repair.
  • All forms of bowel resection including bowel cancers.
  • Adhesion problems.

Where is the surgery performed?

We have a state of the art laparoscopic operating theatre called OR1. This is now considered to be the optimal setting for carrying out these keyhole operations. Darent Valley Hospital was the first hospital in England to obtain an OR1. The theatre is kitted out with several monitors so that the surgeon can see the operation site from any position. We have hand and voice activated controls to control the lighting, gas pressures, camera adjustments and even operating table position such that the surgeon is given the maximum help to carry out these operations successfully.

How long does keyhole surgery take?

The operation can sometimes take longer than conventional surgery - the length of time varies with each operation.

What are the advantages to keyhole surgery?

Recovery after keyhole surgery is usually quicker and has fewer side effects. There is little scarring after keyhole surgery. One side effect of ‘open’ surgery - minimised with keyhole surgery - is ‘adhesions’. This is where internal organs stick together and form bands of scar tissue, which can be painful and cause obstruction. Adhesions have been proven to occur less often in adults after keyhole surgery, and the risk of adhesions in children after keyhole surgery is thought to be less as well.

What happens before the operation?

You will receive information about how to prepare for your operation in the admission information sent out before you come into hospital. You should not have anything to eat or drink beforehand for the amount of time specified in the letter. It is important to follow these instructions - otherwise your operation may need to be delayed or even cancelled.


Prior to your admission or on the day you come into hospital for the operation, your consultant will explain the operation in detail, discuss any worries you may have and ask you to sign a consent form. An anaesthetist will also see you to explain you anaesthetic in more detail. If you have any medical problems, like allergies, please tell the doctors.

What does the operation involve?

You will be given a general anaesthetic and will be asleep during the operation. Once you are asleep, the surgeon inserts a small metal tube called a cannula into your abdomen. The abdomen is then inflated with carbon dioxide to create space in which the surgeon can operate. A telescope, with a miniature video camera mounted on it, is inserted into the cannula to project a very high quality video image onto a television screen. The operation is performed by inserting specialised instruments which are passed through small hollow tubes which are inserted through separate very small incisions. There may be two or more small incisions required to perform the operation. Once the operation is over, the surgeon will stitch up the holes and you will be taken to the recovery room to wake up from the anaesthetic.

What happens after the operation?

After the operation, you will return to the ward to recover and you may receive some form of pain relief if needed. You may be able to feel a few lumps under the skin at the wound sites, which are stitches inside the body. This is nothing to worry about and the stitches will dissolve on their own in about three months.

When you get home         

You may need some pain relief when you get home. You should not have a bath or shower for 48 hours after the operation to let the wounds settle down. With some operations there is a small risk of infection, so you may need to take antibiotics for a while after the operation. The doctor may wish to see you again several weeks after the operation to check that you are progressing well.



This information does not constitute health or medical advice and will not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. If you have any questions, please ask your doctor. No liability can be taken as a result of using this information.