Laparoscopic surgery is believed to lessen surgical trauma and so cause less disturbance of immune function. This may contribute to the rapid recovery noted after many laparoscopic operations. Preservation of both systemic and intraperitoneal immunity is particularly important in surgery for sepsis or cancer and so an understanding of the impact of laparoscopy on immune function is relevant.


Literature on immunological changes following laparoscopy and open surgery was identified from Medline, along with cross-referencing from the reference lists of major articles on the subject.

Results and discussion:

Despite a few contradictory reports, systemic immunity appears to be better preserved after laparoscopic surgery than after open surgery. However, the local intraperitoneal immune system behaves in a particular way when exposed to carbon dioxide pneumoperitoneum; suppression of intraperitoneal cell-mediated immunity has been demonstrated in a number of studies. This feature may be clinically important and should be acknowledged when considering laparoscopic surgery in patients with malignancy or sepsis. © 2001 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd