Laparoscopy may be used to look for the cause of infertility and/or chronic pelvic pain. If a problem is found, it often can be treated during the same surgery. Laparoscopy also is used to diagnose and treat the following medical conditions:
- Tubal Disease – in which the fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged.
- Endometriosis – If you have signs and symptoms of endometriosis and medications have not helped, a laparoscopy may be recommended.
- Fibroids – Fibroids are growths that form inside the wall of the uterus or outside the uterus.
- Ovarian cyst – Some women have cysts that develop on the ovaries.
- Ectopic pregnancy – Laparoscopy may be done to remove an ectopic pregnancy.
Laparoscopy is a way of doing surgery using small incisions (usually no more than 1/2 inch long). Laparoscopic surgery sometimes is called “minimally invasive surgery.” Laparoscopy is performed with general anesthesia. This type of anesthesia puts you to sleep
Laparoscopic surgery uses a special instrument called the laparoscope. The laparoscope is a long, slender device that is inserted into the abdomen through a small incision. It has a camera attached to it that allows the obstetrician–gynecologist (ob-gyn) to view the abdominal and pelvic organs on an electronic screen. If a problem needs to be fixed, other instruments can be used. These instruments usually are inserted through additional small incisions in the abdomen. They sometimes can be inserted through the same single incision made for the laparoscope. This type of laparoscopy is called “single-site” laparoscopy.
Laparoscopy has many benefits. There is less pain after laparoscopic surgery than after open abdominal surgery, which involves larger incisions, longer hospital stays, and longer recovery times. Recovery from laparoscopic surgery generally is faster than recovery from open abdominal surgery. The smaller incisions that are used allow you to heal faster and have smaller scars. The risk of infection also is lower than with open surgery.
Laparoscopy can take longer to perform than open surgery. The longer time under anesthesia may increase the risk of complications. Sometimes complications do not appear right away but occur a few days to a few weeks after surgery. Problems that can occur with laparoscopy include the following:
- Bleeding or a hernia (a bulge caused by poor healing) at the incision sites
- Internal bleeding
- Damage to a blood vessel or other organ, such as the stomach, bowel, bladder, or ureters
After you are given anesthesia, a small incision is made in or below your navel or in another area of your abdomen. The laparoscope is inserted through this small incision. During the procedure, the abdomen is filled with a gas. Filling the abdomen with gas allows the pelvic reproductive organs to be seen more clearly. The camera attached to the laparoscope shows the pelvic organs on a screen. Other small incisions may be made in the abdomen for surgical instruments. Another instrument, called a uterine manipulator, may be inserted through the vagina and cervix and into the uterus. This instrument is used to move the pelvic organs into view.
After the procedure, the instruments and most of the gas are removed. The small incisions are closed. You will be moved to the recovery room. You will feel sleepy for a few hours. You may have some nausea from the anesthesia. With outpatient surgery, you will need to stay in the recovery room until you can stand up without help and empty your bladder. You must have someone drive you home. You usually can go home the same day. More complex procedures, such as laparoscopic hysterectomy, may require an overnight stay in the hospital.
For a few days after the procedure, you may feel tired and have some discomfort. You may be sore around the incisions made in your abdomen and navel. The tube put in your throat to help you breathe during the surgery may give you a sore throat. Try throat lozenges or gargle with warm salt water. You may feel pain in your shoulder or back. This pain is from the small amount of gas used during the procedure that remains in your abdomen. It goes away on its own within a few hours or days. If pain and nausea do not go away after a few days or become worse, you should contact our office.
Your physician will let you know when you can get back to your normal activities. For minor procedures, it is often 1–2 days after the surgery. For more complex procedures, it can take longer. You may be told to avoid heavy activity, intercourse or exercise.
Contact our office right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms:
- Pain that is severe or gets worse
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Redness, swelling, or discharge from the incision
- Inability to empty your bladder