A laparoscopy is any surgical procedure that uses a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a thin tube attached to a light source that is inserted through a small incision in the belly button. With it, a doctor can see the pelvic and abdominal organs.
The goal of laparoscopy is to find the cause of a problem without making a big cut or incision in the upper or lower abdomen. If a pelvic or abdominal ultrasound has shown something abnormal, laparoscopy is often used to confirm the findings. A woman may need a laparoscopy for many reasons. Some symptoms that may lead to the procedure include:
A doctor may also use laparoscopy to remove these organs or growths:
A doctor may use this procedure to diagnose, evaluate, or treat these conditions:
A doctor may also use this procedure for these reasons:
First, the woman receives general anesthesia. This relaxes the abdominal muscles, leads to a deep sleep, and prevents the sensation of pain. Then, the doctor makes a small cut below her belly button. The doctor puts the laparoscope through this cut. Then, the doctor inflates the abdominal cavity with 2 to 5 liters of carbon dioxide gas. This helps the doctor see the organs in the region. Next, the doctor makes one to three smaller cuts on the lower abdomen. These are used for instruments that might be needed to hold an organ, to take a biopsy sample, or to apply a laser to any lesions.
The doctor also uses the laparoscope to see the following parts of the body:
After the doctor has viewed or removed what is needed, the cuts are closed with stitches. These may heal by themselves or may need to be removed in the doctor's office a week later. The procedure usually takes about an hour. The woman stays in a recovery room for one to three hours while anesthesia wears off. Sometimes, the woman may need to stay overnight in the hospital if she has trouble waking up or if there are any complications.
The doctor will discuss the findings and treatment options after the procedure.
For a few hours after the surgery, the woman may feel sleepy or groggy. She should not drive or use heavy machinery for 24 hours. The most common complaints after laparoscopy include:
These symptoms usually improve within 24 to 48 hours after surgery.
Because sharp instruments are used during surgery, trauma may occur to any organ within the abdomen. Other complications include:
Author:Eva Martin, MD
Editor:Crist, Gayle P., MS, BA
Reviewer:Kathleen A. MacNaughton, RN, BSN