The bile duct connects the liver, gall bladder and small intestine and plays an important role in the digestion process. Though it is rare, the bile duct may also be affected by cancer, this type of cancer is known as biliary cancer. Biliary cancer can be categorized as intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, and cancer of the gall bladder. Of these, gall bladder cancer is the most common. Biliary cancer is typically treated with surgery and followed by chemotherapy and radiation. In many cases, this surgery may be performed laparoscopically.
Laparoscopic surgery is also known as keyhole surgery or minimally invasive surgery. This differs from other surgical procedures as it allows a surgeon to operate on an internal organ without making a large incision. There are many advantages to laparoscopic surgery which include minimal bleeding, smaller internal and external scars, reduced chances of infections, lowered pain and discomfort and faster healing. It also reduces the amount of hospitalization required after a surgery and allows the patient to return to his normal lifestyle faster. However, laparoscopic surgery cannot be applied to all procedures.
When it comes to biliary cancer, laparoscopy can be used to treat cancer of the gall bladder. This is known as Laparoscopic cholecystectomy and involves the removal of part of the gallbladder or the whole gall bladder. The lymph nodes around the gall bladder and parts of the liver tissue may also be removed. For this procedure, 3 to 4 incisions may be made in the abdomen. A long flexible tube with a light and camera at one end is passed through one of these incisions. This allows the surgeons to look inside the abdominal cavity. Instruments are used through the other incisions to cut the tumor away and remove it.
Laparoscopy is rarely used to treattumours in the bile ducts. This is because the bile ducts are relatively small and placed deep within the abdomen. However, if a tumor is blocking the flow of bile into the intestines, laparoscopy may be used to create a bypass. It may also be used to remove small stones from the bile duct.
Biliary cancer has very few significant symptoms. Hence, in many cases, it is diagnosed only at an advanced stage. Almost all cases of Biliary cancer are accompanied by the development of gall stones. Laparoscopy is very effective in treating gall stones and increases the chances of detecting biliary cancer in its early stage