During a pelvic
laparoscopy, your doctor uses an instrument called a laparoscope to examine
your reproductive organs. A laparoscope is a long, thin tube with a
high-intensity light and high-resolution camera.
Your doctor pushes the laparoscope through an incision in your
abdominal wall. The camera relays images that are projected onto a video
monitor. Your reproductive organs can be examined without performing open
surgery. Your doctor can also use a pelvic laparoscopy to obtain a biopsy and
treat some pelvic conditions.
Pelvic laparoscopy is called a minimally invasive procedure
because only small incisions are made. Minimally invasive procedures often have
a shorter recovery period, less blood loss, and lower levels of post-surgical
pain than open surgery.
The procedure also is referred to as:
- band-aid surgery
- exploratory laparoscopy
- gynecologic laparoscopy
Uses of Pelvic Laparoscopy
Doctors use many imaging techniques to observe pelvic
abnormalities. These techniques include ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI. Your
doctor may use a pelvic laparoscopy after other noninvasive options have been
used. The procedure may be able to provide more detail when the data gathered
through these methods cannot provide a definite diagnosis.
Your doctor can use a pelvic laparoscopy to investigate and
treat conditions affecting the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other
organs in your pelvic area. They may recommend a pelvic laparoscopy to:
- determine the cause of pelvic pain
- examine an abnormality, such as a tissue mass,
ovarian cyst, or tumor, which was possibly found in another imaging study
- confirm the presence of endometriosis, which is
a condition in which cells from the lining of your uterus grow outside of your
- diagnose a pelvic inflammatory disease
- examine your fallopian tube for obstructions or
- investigate conditions that might cause
- observe the extent of ovarian cancer,
endometrial cancer, or cervical cancer
Your doctor can take a biopsy of the abnormal tissue during a
pelvic laparoscopy. They can also use the procedure to diagnose and treat
Using the video monitor as a guide, your doctor can:
- obtain a tissue sample for biopsy
- eliminate scar tissue or abnormal tissue from
- repair a damaged uterus
- repair damage to your ovaries or fallopian tubes
- remove an ectopic pregnancy
- perform an appendectomy
- perform a hysterectomy, or removal of the uterus
- perform a tubal ligation, which is sterilization
of your fallopian tubes
- remove lymph nodes affected by pelvic cancers
Preparation for a Pelvic Laparoscopy
You usually will prepare for a laparoscopy in much the same way
that you would for any other surgical procedure.
You should tell your doctor about any prescription or
over-the-counter medications that you’re taking. Your doctor can discuss how
these medications should be used before and during the test.
Certain medications could affect the outcome of your
laparoscopy. Therefore, your doctor may provide special instructions if you’re taking
any of the following:
- anticoagulants, or blood thinners
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),
including aspirin or ibuprofen
- medications that affect blood clotting
- herbal or dietary supplements
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or think you might be
pregnant. This will ensure that your fetus isn’t harmed during the procedure.
Your doctor may request an additional imaging study, such as an
ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI before surgery. The data from that imaging study
can help them better understand the abnormality they’re investigating. The
imaging results can also provide your doctor with a visual guide to your pelvic
region, improving effectiveness.
You cannot eat or drink anything (including water) for at least
eight hours before your laparoscopy. If you smoke, you should try to quit. Ask
a friend or family member to drive you to the surgery if your doctor gives you
a sedative to take at home before the procedure. The sedative will impair your
ability to drive.
Procedure for Pelvic Laparoscopy
A pelvic laparoscopy can be done in a hospital, but it’s
usually performed in an outpatient clinic.
Before surgery, you’ll be asked to change into a hospital gown.
An intravenous line will be inserted into your hand or arm. You’ll get general
anesthesia in most cases. This will allow you to remain in a deep sleep and not
feel any pain during the procedure.
In other cases, you’ll get a local anesthetic. This type of
anesthesia prevents you from feeling pain in your pelvic area during the
procedure. However, it will not put you to sleep. You may feel a pricking or burning
sensation when your doctor injects local anesthesia into your pelvis. You may
still feel pressure from the laparoscope during the procedure, but you shouldn’t
Your doctor will make a small cut above your navel about
one-half inch long once the anesthesia has taken effect. A narrow, tube-like
instrument called a “cannula” will be placed into your abdominal cavity to expand
the cavity with carbon dioxide. This makes room in that area for your doctor to
work. It also allows for a clearer view.
They’ll then insert the laparoscope through the incision near
your navel. Up to four dime-sized cuts will be made closer to your pubic
hairline. These cuts allow space for additional cannulas and other tools that
will be needed to perform the procedure.
Your doctor may also insert a uterine
manipulator through your cervix into your uterus. This will help move the
pelvic organs into view. Your doctor will remove the instruments and gas from
your body and will close all of your incisions once surgery has been completed.
Bandages will be placed over the stitches used to close your incisions.
Recovery from a Pelvic Laparoscopy
You’ll need to remain in the outpatient facility or hospital
for recovery and observation before you can be released. Doctors and nurses
will monitor your vital signs, including:
- blood pressure
- breathing rate
The amount of time that you’ll need to stay in the recovery
area will vary depending on your overall physical condition, the type of
anesthesia that was used, and your body’s reaction to the procedure. In some
cases, you may need to remain in the hospital overnight.
You’ll be discharged once the effects of your anesthesia have
worn off. However, you won’t be permitted to drive yourself home after the
procedure. Have someone accompany you to the procedure, so that they can drive
After your pelvic laparoscopy:
- You may feel slight pain and throbbing at the
- You may have abdominal bloating or discomfort
from the carbon dioxide for up to two days. The level of pain or discomfort
should decrease each day.
- It’s not uncommon to have shoulder pain after
your procedure. This occurs when the carbon dioxide gas causes an irritation in
your diaphragm, which is a muscle that shares nerves with your shoulder.
- You may have a sore throat from the breathing
tube used during the procedure.
Your doctor may prescribe medication to relieve the pain.
Every person reacts differently to the procedure. Follow your
doctor’s discharge instructions about when to resume normal activities, such as
going to work and doing physical activities. Your post-surgical instructions
will depend on the type of procedure you had.
You’ll be instructed not to lift any heavy objects for about
three weeks after the procedure. This will reduce your risk of developing a
hernia in one of your incisions. You can resume your normal diet. You’ll need
to return to your doctor in about two weeks.
Risks of a Pelvic Laparoscopy
Pelvic laparoscopy is considered a surgical procedure. The most
common complications are bleeding and infection. However, these risks are minimal.
Still, it’s important to be aware of signs of infection.
Contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- vaginal bleeding
- a menstrual flow that’s unusually heavy or
filled with clots
- abdominal pain that increases in intensity
- a fever
- redness, swelling, bleeding, or drainage at your
- continued nausea or vomiting
- shortness of breath
A pelvic laparoscopy includes a risk of potential internal
damage. Your doctor will conduct immediate open surgery if an organ is
punctured during the pelvic laparoscopy.
Rare complications include:
- a reaction to general anesthesia
- inflammation or an infection of the abdomen
- a blood clot that could travel to your pelvis,
legs, or lungs
- a blood clot that could enter your heart or
- the need for a blood transfusion or temporary
Results of a Pelvic Laparoscopy
The doctor who performed your pelvic laparoscopy will analyze
the findings. If a biopsy was taken, a specialist in disease diagnosis called a
“pathologist” will examine it in a laboratory. A pathology report detailing the
results will be sent to your doctor.
Normal results of a pelvic laparoscopy indicate that the
reproductive organs and any other organs examined are normal in size and
appearance. A normal report also documents the absence of cysts, tumors, or
other abnormalities in the pelvic area.
Abnormal laparoscopy results can indicate any one of numerous
- adhesions or surgical scars
- uterine fibroids, which are benign tumors
- cysts or tumors
- endometriosis, which occurs when tissue from the
inside of your uterus grows outside of your uterus
- injury or trauma
- obstruction in your fallopian tube
- ovarian cysts
- pelvic inflammatory disease
Your doctor may need to order more laboratory tests and perform
more physical exams before they’re able to give you a diagnosis.