Laparoscopy is a type of surgical procedure that allows a surgeon to access the inside of the abdomen and pelvis without having to make large incisions in the skin. It is also known as keyhole surgery or minimally invasive surgery.
Large incisions can be avoided during laparoscopy because the surgeon uses an instrument called a laparoscope. This is a small tube that has a light source and a camera, which relays images of the inside of the abdomen or pelvis to a television monitor.
The advantages of this technique over traditional “open” surgery include:
- a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery time
- less pain and bleeding after the operation
- reduced scarring
How is laparoscopy is carried out?
Laparoscopy is carried out under general anaesthesia, so you will not feel any pain during the procedure. During laparoscopy, the surgeon makes one or more small incisions in the abdomen. These allow the surgeon to insert the laparoscope, small surgical tools and a tube used to pump gas into the abdomen so it is easier for the surgeon to look around and operate. After the procedure, the gas is let out of your abdomen, the incisions are closed using stitches and a dressing applied.
You can often go home on the same day you have laparoscopy, although sometimes you may need to stay overnight in hospital.
When is laparoscopy done?
Laparoscopy can be used to help diagnose a wide range of conditions that develop inside the abdomen or pelvis. It can also be used to carry out surgical procedures, such as removing a damaged or diseased organ, or removing a tissue sample for further testing (biopsy).
Laparoscopy is most commonly used in gynaecology and other disciplines.
It may be used to diagnose (diagnostic) or treat(operative) many different conditions.
During laparoscopy small surgical instruments and devices can be inserted through separate small incisons to help perform surgical procedures.
Laparoscopies are now widely used to diagnose many different conditions and investigate certain symptoms. For example, they may be used for:
- pelvic inflammatory disease (PID),endometriosis,ectopic pregnancy,ovarian cyst,
- fibroids and unexplained pelvic or abdominal pain.
- Laparoscopy can also be used to diagnose certain types of cancers. In such cases, the laparoscope is used to obtain a sample of suspected cancerous tissue so that it can be sent to a laboratory for testing. This is known as a biopsy.
Laparoscopic surgery can be used to treat a number of different conditions, including:
- treating ectopic pregnancy (it is usually necessary to remove the embryo to prevent damage to the fallopian tubes)
- removing fibroids
- removing the womb (hysterectomy), which is sometimes used to treat pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis, heavy periods or painful periods
Laparoscopic surgery is very common and generally regarded as very safe. Serious complications are rare, occurring in an estimated 1 in 1,000 cases.
Possible complications that can develop include:
- damage to organs, such as the bladder or bowel
- injury to a major artery
- damage to nerves in the pelvis.