Laparoscopy is a surgery that uses a thin, lighted tube put through a cut (incision) in the belly to look at the abdominal organs or the female pelvic organs. Laparoscopy is used to find problems such as cysts, adhesions, fibroids, and infection. Tissue samples can be taken for biopsy through the tube (laparoscope).
In many cases laparoscopy can be done instead of laparotomy surgery that uses a larger incision in the belly. Laparoscopy can be less stressful and may have less problems and lower costs than laparotomy for minor surgeries. It can often be done without needing to stay overnight in the hospital.
Why It Is Done
Laparoscopy is done to:
How To Prepare
Tell your doctor if you:
You may be asked to use an enema or suppository several hours before or the day before the surgery to empty your colon.
The hospital or surgery center may send you instructions on how to get ready for your laparoscopy or a nurse may call you with instructions before your surgery.
You will be asked to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of the test and agree to have it done.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about the need for the surgery, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
How It Is Done
Laparoscopy is done by a surgeon or a doctor of women's health (gynecologist). General anesthesia is generally used, but other types of anesthesia, such as spinal anesthesia, may be used. Talk with your doctor about what choice is best for you.
Several procedures may be done after you get your anesthesia and are relaxed or asleep.
During laparoscopy, a small incision is made in the belly. More than one incision may be made if other tools will be used during the surgery. A hollow needle is put through the first incision and gas (carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide) is slowly put through the needle to inflate the belly. The gas lifts the abdominal wall away from the organs inside so your doctor can see clearly.
A thin, lighted tube (laparoscope) is then put through the incision to look at the organs. Other tools can be used to take tissue samples, fix damage, or drain cysts. A laser may be attached to the laparoscope to help with the surgery.
After the surgery, all the tools will be removed and the gas will be released. The incisions will be closed with stitches and covered with a bandage. The scar will be very small and will fade over time.
Laparoscopy takes 30 to 90 minutes, depending on what is done, but can take longer if a condition (such as endometriosis) is found and treated. After the laparoscopy, you will go to the recovery room for 2 to 4 hours. You can usually do your normal activities the next day, but do not do any strenuous activity or exercise for about a week.
How It Feels
If general anesthesia is used, you will be asleep and feel nothing. After you wake up, you will feel sleepy for several hours. You may be tired and have some pain for a few days after a laparoscopy. You may have a mild sore throat from the tube in your throat to help you breathe. Use throat lozenges and gargle with warm salt water to help your sore throat.
If you have other types of anesthesia, you may have pain for a few days when the initial numbness wears off.
There is a small chance for problems from a laparoscopy.
A laparoscopy may not be done because of a higher chance for problems if you have:
After the surgery
Right after surgery, you will be taken to a recovery room where nurses will care for and watch your vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, oxygen level, and heart rate). You will stay in the recovery area for 2 to 4 hours, and then you will go home. Your nurse will explain any special instructions from your doctor. You will probably go home with a sheet of care instructions and who to call if you have a problem.
You may have some bloating. There may be bruising around the incisions for a few days. You may have some pain around the incisions. Do not drink carbonated beverages for 1 to 2 days after the laparoscopy to lower your chance of gas pains and vomiting.
The gas used during the laparoscopy can irritate your diaphragm for a few days. You may have some pain or achiness in your shoulder for a couple of days after the laparoscopy.
Some of the gas in your belly may leak into your skin and cause a crackling sound if you rub the skin surrounding the stitches. This is not serious and will go away in a few days.
Call your doctor immediately if you have:
Laparoscopy is a surgery that uses a thin, lighted tube put through a cut (incision) in the belly to look at the abdominal organs or the female pelvic organs. Your doctor may talk to you about the surgery once you are fully awake. He or she may call you at home later to talk to you about the results. Results of any lab tests on tissue samples may not be available for several days.
What Affects the Test
Reasons you may not be able to have the surgery or why the results may not be helpful include:
What To Think About
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