Laparoscopy, also known as
diagnostic laparoscopy, is a surgical diagnostic procedure used to examine the
organs inside the abdomen. It is a low-risk, minimally invasive procedure. Only
small incisions are made.
Laparoscopy uses an instrument
called a laparoscope to look at the abdominal organs. A laparoscope is a long,
thin tube with a high-intensity light and a high-resolution camera at the
front. The instrument is inserted through an incision in the abdominal wall. As
it moves along, the camera sends images to a video monitor.
Laparoscopy allows your doctor to
see inside your body in real time, without open surgery. Your doctor also can
obtain biopsy samples during this procedure.
Is Laparoscopy Performed?
Laparoscopy is often used to
identify and diagnose the source of abdominal or pelvic pain. It’s usually performed
when other, noninvasive methods are unable to help with diagnosis.
In many cases, abdominal problems
can also be diagnosed with imaging techniques such as:
- ultrasound, which uses high-frequency sound waves to
create images of the body
- CT scan, which is a series of special X-rays that take cross-sectional
images of the body
- MRI, which
uses magnets and radio waves to produce images of the body
Laparoscopy is performed when
these tests don’t provide enough information or insight for a diagnosis. The
procedure may also be used to take a biopsy, or sample of tissue, from a
particular organ in the abdomen.
Your doctor may recommend
laparoscopy to examine the following organs:
- small and
- pelvic or
By observing these areas with a
laparoscope, your doctor can detect:
- an abdominal
mass or tumor
- fluid in the
effectiveness of certain treatments
- the degree
to which a particular cancer has progressed
Are the Risks of Laparoscopy?
The most common risks associated
with laparoscopy are bleeding and infection. However, these are rare
After your procedure, it’s
important to watch for any signs of infection. Contact your doctor if you
- stomach pain
that becomes more intense over time
swelling, bleeding, or drainage at the incision sites
nausea or vomiting
- shortness of
- inability to
There’s also a small risk of
damage to the organs being examined during laparoscopy. Blood and other fluids
may leak out into your body if an organ is punctured. In this case, you’ll need
other surgery to repair the damage.
Other, less common risks include:
from general anesthesia
of the abdominal wall
- a blood
clot, which could travel to your pelvis, legs, or lungs
Do I Prepare for Laparoscopy?
You should tell your doctor about
any prescription or over-the-counter medications you’re taking. Your doctor
will tell you how they should be used before and after the procedure.
Your doctor may change the dose
of any medications that could affect the outcome of laparoscopy. These drugs include:
such as blood thinners
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin or ibuprofen
medications that affect blood clotting
- herbal or
- vitamin K
You should also tell your doctor
if you’re pregnant or think you might be pregnant. This will reduce the risk of
harm to your developing baby.
Before laparoscopy, your doctor
may order blood tests, urinalysis, electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), and chest X-ray. Your doctor might also
perform certain imaging tests, including an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI scan.
These tests can help your doctor
better understand the abnormality being examined during laparoscopy. The results
also give your doctor a visual guide to the inside of your abdomen. This can
improve the effectiveness of laparoscopy.
You’ll probably need to avoid
eating and drinking for at least eight hours before laparoscopy. You should
also arrange for a family member or friend to drive you home after the
procedure. Laparoscopy is often performed using general anesthesia, which can
make you drowsy and unable to drive for several hours after surgery.
Is Laparoscopy Performed?
Laparoscopy is usually done as an
outpatient procedure. This means that you’ll be able to go home the same day as
your surgery. It may be performed in a hospital or an outpatient surgical
You’ll likely be given general
anesthesia for this type of surgery. This means that you will sleep through the
procedure and will not feel any pain. In some cases, local anesthesia is used
instead. A local anesthetic numbs the area, so even though you will be awake
during the surgery, you will not feel any pain.
During laparoscopy, an incision
will be made below your belly button. A small tube called a cannula will then
be inserted. The cannula is used to inflate your abdomen with carbon dioxide
gas. This gas allows your doctor to see your abdominal organs more clearly.
Once the abdomen is inflated, the laparoscope will be inserted through the
incision. The camera attached to the laparoscope will display the images on a
screen, allowing your doctor to see your organs in real time.
Up to a total of four cuts will
be made. These incisions allow other instruments to be inserted. For example,
your doctor may need to use another surgical tool to perform a biopsy. During a
biopsy, your doctor will take a small sample of tissue from an organ to be
After the procedure is done, the
instruments will be removed. Your incisions will be closed with stitches or
surgical tape. Bandages may be placed over the incisions.
Long Does It Take to Recover from Laparoscopy?
When the surgery is over, you’ll
be observed for several hours before you’re released from the hospital. Your
vital signs, such your breathing and heart rate, will be monitored closely.
Hospital staff will also check for any adverse reactions to the anesthesia or
the procedure, as well as monitor for prolonged bleeding.
The timing of your release will
vary. It depends on:
- your overall
- the type of
- your body’s
reaction to the surgery
In some cases, you may have to
remain in the hospital overnight.
A family member or friend will
need to drive you home if you received general anesthesia. The effects of
general anesthesia usually take several hours to wear off, so it can be unsafe
to drive after the procedure.
In the days following laparoscopy,
you may feel moderate pain and throbbing in the areas where incisions were made.
Any pain or discomfort should improve within a few days. Your doctor may
prescribe medication to relieve the pain.
It’s also common to have shoulder
pain after your procedure. The pain is usually a result of the carbon dioxide
gas. The gas can irritate your diaphragm, which shares nerves with your
shoulder. It may also cause some bloating. The discomfort should go away within
a couple of days.
You can usually resume all normal
activities within a week. You’ll need to attend a follow-up appointment with
your doctor about two weeks after laparoscopy.
If a biopsy was taken, a pathologist
will examine it. A pathologist is a doctor who specializes in tissue analysis. A
report detailing the results will be sent to your doctor.
Normal results from laparoscopy indicate
the absence of abdominal bleeding, hernias, and intestinal blockages. They also
mean that all your organs are healthy.
Abnormal results from laparoscopy
indicate certain conditions, including:
- adhesions or
- appendicitis, an inflammation of the intestines
- fibroids, or abnormal growths in the uterus
- cysts or
an inflammation of the gall bladder
- endometriosis, a disorder in which the tissue that forms
the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus
- injury or
trauma to a particular organ
- pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection of the reproductive organs
Your doctor will schedule an
appointment with you to go over the results. If a serious medical condition was
found, the appropriate treatment will be given.