Laparoscopy

In the past, most surgery involving the reproductive organs was done by laparotomy (a surgical procedure in which an incision is made in the abdomen). Now, many of these same procedures can be done through a laparoscope. There are many benefits to laparoscopy - a shorter hospital stay, smaller incisions, and a shorter recovery.  If you think you have a problem that could be helped with laparoscopy, please make an appointment to discuss your options with one of our physicians.


What is a Laparoscopy?
A laparoscopy is a procedure in which your healthcare provider uses a laparoscope to look at the organs in the abdomen and pelvis, such as the liver or appendix or, in women, the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.  A laparoscope is a thin tube with a light and tiny camera that is placed through a tiny incision (cut), usually in the belly button.


When is it used?
A laparoscopy allows your healthcare provider to look more closely at organs and tissues in your abdomen or pelvis.  It may help your provider find the cause of medical problems you may be having, such as, (but not limited too):

  • Pain, an abnormal lump, or fluid in your abdomen
  • Liver disease
  • Trouble getting pregnant
  • A possible tubal pregnancy
  • Laparoscopy can be used for treatment as well as diagnosis.  For example, your provider may remove abnormal tissue.

How do I prepare for a laparoscopy?
Plan for your care and recovery after the operation.  Arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure.  Allow for time to rest.  Try to find other people to help you with your day to day duties.

Follow your healthcare provider's instructions about not smoking before and after the procedure.  Smokers heal more slowly after surgery.  They are also more likely to have breathing problems during surgery.  For this reason, if you are a smoker, you should quit at least 2 weeks before the procedure. It is best to quit 6 to 8 weeks before surgery.  Also, your wounds will heal much better if you do not smoke after surgery.

If you need a minor pain reliever in the week before the procedure, choose acetaminophen rather than aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen.  This helps avoid extra bleeding during surgery.  If you are taking daily aspirin for a medical condition, ask your provider in you need to stop taking it before the procedure.

Follow any other instructions your provider gives you.  If you are to have general anesthesia, eat a light meal, such as soup or salad, the night before the procedure.  Do NOT eat or drink anything after midnight and the morning of the procedure.  Do not even drink coffee, tea, or water.


What happens during the procedure?
You will be given general anesthetic, which relaxes your muscles, puts you to sleep, and keeps you from feeling pain.

Your provider makes a small cut (incision) in or just below your bellybutton.  Your peritoneal cavity, which holds your abdominal and pelvic organs, is expanded with carbon dioxide gas, like a balloon.  This helps your healthcare provider see your organs better.  Your provider puts a laparoscope through the cut.  Your provider may put other tools through other small cuts in your abdomen.  The laparoscope is used to look at the abdominal organs and tissues and to guide other tools.

If an abnormal growth is found, your provider may take a sample of the growth to send to the lab for testing.  Or your provider may remove all of the growth.  When finished, your provider releases most of the gas through the tube of the laparoscope, removes the scope and any other tools, and sews up the cuts.


What happens after the procedure?
You may stay in the hospital for a few hours or overnight to recover, depending on what was done during the procedure.  The anesthetic may cause sleepiness or grogginess for a while.  You may feel bloated or have a change in bowel habits for a few days.  You may have some shoulder pain from the carbon dioxide gas used to inflate your peritoneal cavity.  You may not be able to urinate right away and may have a catheter placed into your bladder to drain urine.   A catheter is a small tube that can be placed into the bladder through the urethra, which is the passageway from the bladder to the outside. After most laparoscopies, you may resume normal activities in a few days.  If you had more intense surgery, you may need to avoid heavy activity such as lifting for 3 to 6 weeks.  Ask your healthcare provider when you can start lifting again and how much you can lift. 

Your healthcare provider will discuss with you what was found, what was done, and if anything else is needed.  Ask your provider what steps you should take and when you should come back for a checkup.


What are the benefits of this procedure?

This minor surgical procedure may help our healthcare provider make a more accurate diagnosis.  Then your provider can suggest further treatment.  Some problems may be treated surgically when this procedure is done.  Your stay at the hospital and the time needed to recover will be much shorter than with more extensive abdominal surgery.  You will also have smaller incisions.


What are the risks associated with this procedure?
There are some risks when you have general anesthesia. 

  • Discuss these risks with your healthcare provider.
  • The intestines, other abdominal organs, glands, or blood vessels may be damaged.  You may need a larger incision & more extensive surgery.
  • The lining of the abdominal wall may become inflamed.  You may have infection or bleeding.
  • You may have some pain after the procedure.

When should I call my healthcare provider?
Call your provider right away if:

  • You develop a fever over 100 F ( 37.8 9 C )
  • You have redness, swelling, pain, or drainage from the incisions.
  • You become dizzy and faint.  You have chest pain.
  • You have nausea and vomiting.
  • You become short of breath.
  • You have abdominal pain or swelling that gets worse.