During a laparoscopy a small incision around 1-2 cm long is made in the abdomen. A small amount of gas is then injected through the cut to slightly "blow out" the abdominal wall which makes the internal organs easier to see. A laparoscope, which is like a thin telescope with a light source, is then passed through the incision and images from inside the abdomen are projected back onto a monitor. Some of the common conditions that a laparoscopy can help to diagnose include:
If a reason for your symptoms is identified during the procedure they can often be treated at the same time. In this instance one or two further incisions will also be made to allow instruments to be passed through to perform the surgery. Common treatments:
The procedure is carried out in hospital under a general anaesthetic and can usually be performed as a day-case procedure i.e. you should be able to go home on the same day.
A laparoscopy is often referred to as "key-hole" or "minimally invasive" surgery as the incisions required in the abdomen are much smaller than with conventional abdominal surgery. In general, compared to traditional surgery, there is usually less pain following the procedure, less risk of complications, a quicker recovery time, smaller scars and a shorter hospital stay.
Treatment of endometriosis involves destroying or removing affected patches of tissue using diathermy (an electrical current), heat or a laser.
Adhesiolysis involves the removal of scar tissue called adhesions which can form between internal organs causing them to stick together. Treatment involves using bipolar diathermy to break down the adhesions to restore mobility.
As part of fertility investigations, a test of tubal patency can be performed during a laparoscopy. Dye is injected into the uterus and if there is no tubal blockage the dye should pass freely along the fallopian tubes and spill out into the abdomen.
Treatment involves using a laser fibre or electrosurgical needle to puncture each of the ovaries a small number of times. This can help trigger ovulation in women with polycystic ovaries by restoring regular ovulation cycles.