The procedure is often used to diagnose disorders and diseases of the pelvis, uterus, and urinary bladder.
With these small incisions being only approximately 0.5 inches long, laparoscopy is commonly known as a minimally invasive surgery and avoids the need for an open surgical procedure.
The procedure is commonly performed under general anesthetic. Patients 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.
- Laparoscopy is sometimes referred to as "minimally invasive surgery" or "band-aid surgery."
- Organs that can be examined with a pelvic laparoscopy include the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
- Carbon dioxide is used to expand the abdominal cavity, making it easier for a doctor to examine the insides of the patient.
- Laparoscopies can be used in surgery to repair or remove damaged parts of organs.
- Risks associated with laparoscopy include bleeding and damage to internal organs.
What is a laparoscopy?
Laparoscopy helps to diagnose pelvic and gynecological issues while remaining minimally invasive.
A laparoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that uses a thin device with an attached light and camera to help a doctor more clearly visualize organ damage and disease.
During a laparoscopy, the laparoscope is inserted into the abdomen through a small incision in the abdomen. The abdomen is then filled with carbon dioxide using a catheter, allowing for better imaging of the organs in the abdomen and pelvis.
Additional surgical instruments will be used at times. Instruments can then be inserted through the incision sites. Up to four small incisions can often be expected.
An instrument called a uterine manipulator might be used. This device 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 used instruments, close the incisions with stitches, and cover the area with small bandages.
Following the procedure, the patient may feel tired or nauseated from the anesthesia. Most patients are discharged from hospital on the day of their surgery, although hospitalization may be necessary for some people, such as after a laparoscopic hysterectomy, to enable a full recovery.
Reasons for a pelvic laparoscopy
A laparoscopy can be performed 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
- evaluation of the certain cancers, including those of the ovary, uterus, and cervix.
Benefits and risks of having a laparoscopy
As with any surgical procedure, there are benefits and risks to a laparoscopy. 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 blood product transfusion
- a hernia
- 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
Recovery after laparoscopy
Laparoscopy can cause back or shoulder pain, due to the carbon dioxide remaining in the body.
You may experience an array of symptoms 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. If you experience any of the following symptoms, schedule another appointment with your physician:
- 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 a complication having occurred as a result of the procedure that may require further treatment.
People can typically resume normal activities within 1 or 2 days after surgery. However, you should discuss specific limitations and instructions with your healthcare provider. This may include avoiding heavy exercise or lifting for a few weeks.