Medical teams often use laparoscopy to diagnose disorders and diseases of the pelvis, uterus, and urinary bladder.
These small incisions are only approximately 0.5 inches long. As a result, laparoscopy avoids the need for an open surgical procedure. Doctors commonly refer to laparoscopy as minimally invasive surgery or keyhole surgery.
A surgeon commonly performs the procedure while the patient is under general anesthetic. People will usually be completely asleep when undergoing a laparoscopy. However, regional anesthetic can be used when appropriate.
Although a laparoscopy can be used in a number of different treatments, such as abdominal hernia repairs and removing the appendix, this article will focus mainly on the gynecological use of pelvic laparoscopy.
What is a laparoscopy?
Laparoscopy helps diagnose pelvic and gynecological issues while remaining minimally invasive.
A laparoscopy is a diagnostic procedure.
A surgeon uses a thin device with an attached light and camera to help them more clearly visualize organ damage and disease.
During a laparoscopy, the healthcare provider inserts the laparoscope into the abdomen through a small incision in the abdomen. They will then use a catheter, allowing for clearer imaging of the organs in the abdomen and pelvis.
At times, a surgeon might support a laparoscopy with additional surgical instruments, which they can insert through the incision sites. A person undergoing a laparoscopy can often expect up to four small incisions.
A medical professional carrying out a laparoscopy might also use a uterine manipulator is inserted into the vagina, cervix, and uterus to allow for pelvic organ movement to see different pelvic anatomy.
Once the procedure is complete, the surgeon will remove most of the carbon dioxide from the abdomen, remove all instruments, close the incisions with stitches, and cover the area with small bandages.
Following the procedure, the individual may feel tired or nauseous as a result of the anesthesia.
Most people are discharged from hospital on the day of surgery, although hospitalization may be necessary for some people to enable a full recovery, such as after a laparoscopic hysterectomy that involves removal of the uterus.
A laparoscopy can take place for many reasons, health conditions, and diagnoses, including tubal ligation, diagnostic procedures, and the treatment of certain conditions.
Common reasons for undergoing a laparoscopy include:
- the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis, chronic pelvic pain, pelvic inflammatory disease, and causes of infertility
- the removal of fibroids, uterus, ovarian cysts, lymph nodes, or an ectopic pregnancy
- the treatment of a range of disorders, including urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and certain forms of cancer
- evaluating certain cancers, including those of the ovary, uterus, and cervix.
As with any surgical procedure, a laparoscopy has benefits and risks. The benefits of the procedure are most apparent when comparing a laparoscopy to open surgery.
The benefits of laparoscopy include:
- less pain than an open procedure
- faster recovery
- smaller incisions
- less risk of infection
The risks of laparoscopy include:
- bleeding and the potential need for a blood transfusion
- a risk of damage to internal structures, such as such as blood vessels, the stomach, bowel, bladder, or ureter
- adverse reactions to anesthesia
- abdominal inflammation or infection
- blood clots
Some carbon dioxide may remain in the body and cause back or shoulder pain.
An array of symptoms might occur for a few days following a laparoscopy, including:
- a sore throat, due to breathing tube during surgery
- discomfort at the site of an incision
- abdominal bloating
- shoulder or back pain from any remaining carbon dioxide within the abdomen, which can irritate the diaphragm
Any shoulder or back pain should resolve within a few days. Schedule another appointment with a physician on experiencing any of the following:
- worsening or severe pain
- nausea or vomiting
- heavy vaginal bleeding
- heavy menstrual bleeding or menstrual clotting
- signs of infection, including fever, chills or redness, swelling and discharge at the site of the incision
- inability to empty urinary bladder
- shortness of breath
These symptoms could indicate complications from the procedure. These may require further treatment.
People can typically resume normal activities within 1 or 2 days of surgery. However, discuss specific postoperative limitations and instructions with any healthcare provider providing a laparoscopy.
This may include avoiding heavy exercise or lifting for a few weeks.