Laparoscopy is a procedure used to check the organs in the belly (abdomen). It can also check a woman’s pelvic organs.
Laparoscopy uses a thin lighted tube that has a video camera. The tube is called a laparoscope. It is put into a tiny cut or incision in your belly. The video camera images can be seen on a computer screen.
One benefit of laparoscopy is that it is minimally invasive. That means it uses a very small cut in the belly. Laparoscopy usually takes less time and has a faster recovery than open surgery.
Laparoscopy may be used to take a small tissue sample for testing (a biopsy). It can also be used to remove organs such as the appendix (appendectomy) or the gallbladder (cholecystectomy).
An abdominal laparoscopy can be done to check the abdomen and its organs for:
A laparoscopy is often done when the results of a physical exam, X-ray, or CT scan are not clear.
Laparoscopy may be used to determine a stage of cancer for an abdominal organ. It may also be used to check an abdominal injury. It can see where the injury is and how deep it is. It can also see how much internal bleeding you have.
For women, a gynecologic laparoscopy may be used to check:
Laparoscopy can also be used to treat endometriosis. This is when tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside it. Laparoscopy may be done to treat an ectopic pregnancy or to do a tubal ligation (tie the fallopian tubes) to permanently prevent pregnancy. There may be other reasons for your provider to suggest a laparoscopy.
Possible complications may include bleeding from the incision, injury to the organs in the abdomen, or the carbon dioxide gas entering places other than the abdomen. Sometimes a laparoscopy is not advised. This may be the case if you:
There may be other risks depending on your medical condition. Be sure to talk about any concerns with your provider before the procedure.
Certain conditions may stop a laparoscopy from working well. These include being obese or having bleeding inside your abdomen.
Your healthcare provider may have other instructions for you based on your medical condition.
A laparoscopy may be done on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. The way the test is done may vary. It will depend on your condition and your healthcare provider's practices.
A laparoscopy is generally done while you are asleep under general anesthesia. Your provider will choose the type of anesthesia based on the procedure and your overall health.
Generally, a laparoscopy follows this process:
After surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room. Your recovery process will vary depending on the type of anesthesia you had. You will be watched closely. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are alert, you will be taken to your hospital room. Or you may be sent home if this was an outpatient procedure.
When you are home, you must keep the cut clean and dry. Your doctor will give you instructions on how to bathe. Any stitches or surgical staples will be taken out at a follow-up office visit. If adhesive strips were used, they should be kept dry. They will often fall off in a few days.
You may feel pain from the carbon dioxide gas still in your belly. This pain may last for a few days and may be felt in your shoulders. It should feel a bit better each day. You may take a pain medicine as directed by your provider. Aspirin or other pain medicines may raise your risk of bleeding. Only take medicines that your provider has approved.
Don’t have any carbonated drinks for 1 or 2 days after the procedure. This will help reduce the mild pain from the carbon dioxide gas. Also, carbonated drinks may upset your stomach.
You may be allowed to drink clear fluids a few hours after the procedure. You may slowly move on to more solid foods as directed. Tell your healthcare provider if you have nausea or vomit.
You may be told to limit your physical activity for a few days.
Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:
Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions, depending on your situation.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know: