Laparoscopy involves using one or multiple smaller incisions to insert instruments into the abdomen and pelvis. Many surgical procedures can be performed through these smaller incisions, which avoid a larger, more complicated traditional abdominal incision. This approach is within the group of operations that are “minimally invasive”. When possible, a minimally invasive surgical approach is better, as it allows for less pain after surgery and a quicker recovery.
The procedure is performed by using a laparoscope. This is a slender tube with a camera that allows the doctor to view the abdominal and pelvic organs on a screen. If another procedure needs to be done during a laparoscopy, other instruments are inserted through the same small incision (port) or through separate small incisions.
The risks are similar to traditional surgical approaches including bleeding, infection, or injury to nearby organs, such as the bladder or bowel. Occasionally, if the surgery cannot be accomplished through the smaller incisions, the operation is converted to the traditional approach using a lower, longer incision.
Laparoscopy can be used to visualize the pelvis and abdomen to help diagnose suspected endometriosis or identify underlying causes of pelvic pain. It can be used for permanent sterilization, removal of ectopic pregnancies, treating ovarian cysts, and even hysterectomies.
Laparoscopy requires the patient to be asleep for comfort and safety. When the procedure is complete, the patient is awakened and transferred to the recovery room to begin their recovery. Optimally, with good pain relief, the patient can go home from the recovery room to complete their healing at home.
A follow-up visit is scheduled a few weeks after the procedure. Resuming normal activity is determined by the procedure performed and how well you recover. You and your doctor will be able to discuss the specifics of your care after your procedure.
In recovery, keep an eye out for fever, progressive pain, heavy vaginal bleeding, fainting, difficulty or inability to empty the bladder. Additionally, look for redness, swelling and discharge from the incisions. Your doctor should be called, even after-hours, if any of these problems occur and an appropriate plan will be determined based on your circumstances.
Laparoscopy is a safe approach to your gynecological care and one of the many services your doctor can provide.