Laparoscopic surgery, also called minimally invasive surgery (MIS), bandaid surgery, keyhole surgery, or pinhole surgery is a modern surgical technique in which operations in the abdomen are performed through small incisions (usually 0.5-1.5cm) as compared to larger incisions needed in traditional surgical procedures.
Laparoscopic surgery includes operations within the abdominal or pelvic cavities, whereas keyhole surgery performed on the thoracic or chest cavity is called thoracoscopic surgery.
Laparoscopic and thoracoscopic surgery belong to the broader field of endoscopy. The key element in laparoscopic surgery is the use of a laparoscope: a telescopic rod lens system, that is usually connected to a video camera (single chip or three chip).
Also attached is a fiber optic cable system connected to a 'cold' light source (halogen or xenon), to illuminate the operative field, inserted through a 5 mm or 10 mm cannula or Trocar to view the operative field.
The abdomen is usually insufflated with carbon dioxide gas to create a working and viewing space. The abdomen is essentially blown up like a balloon (insufflated), elevating the abdominal wall above the internal organs like a dome.
The gas used is CO2, which is common to the human body and can be absorbed by tissue and removed by the respiratory system. It is also non-flammable, which is important because electrosurgical devices are commonly used in laparoscopic procedures.
See Wikipedia, Laparoscopic surgery.