Recognising a complication after laparoscopic surgery

This text will give you information on what complications to look out for following laparoscopic surgery in an adult patient. For further guidance, it’s advisable to speak to your consultant.

The benefits of laparoscopic – or keyhole – surgery:

After having surgery of this kind, most patients are able to go home sooner than if the operation had been open – because open surgery requires a larger incision, resulting in a longer recovery period. The pain from laparoscopic surgery should reduce over a few hours, and there will be significant improvement in the first few days.

What to look out for after surgery:

Laparoscopic surgery has some benefits over open surgery; but it can also be harder for surgeons to recognise if and when complications emerge. For instance, accidental damage to the blood vessels, bowel and bladder can be one outcome – although the risk of this occurring is below 3 in 1,000, patients are often discharged before signs appear. Below are the symptoms that recovering patients should keep a lookout for, as they could require treatment straight away:

  • High temperature and fever
  • A worsening pain that’s exacerbated when you breathe, move or cough
  • Problems urinating
  • Feelings of sickness and loss of appetite
  • A lack of bowel movement
  • Feeling light-headed or short of breath
  • Swelling of the abdomen

If you do notice any of these symptoms, and they don’t get better during the first few days of recovery, seek medical advice urgently. Similarly, the following symptoms should also be recognised as they could require further medical treatment:

  • An infected wound (ie. if pus is present) and a high temperature
  • Deep-vein thrombosis – distinguished by pain, redness or swelling in the leg. If surface veins look larger than usual, this can also be an indicator or the condition.
  • Lumps found beneath the site of the incision – this could be a collection of bodily fluid, but could also be a more serious issue such as a hernia. It’s best to seek medical advice so that this can be checked.


References: EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give yo

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