What Is Laparoscopy?
Laparoscopy, also known as diagnostic laparoscopy, is a surgical diagnostic procedure used to examine the organs inside the abdomen. It is a low-risk, minimally invasive procedure. Only small incisions are made.
Laparoscopy uses an instrument called a laparoscope to look at the abdominal organs. A laparoscope is a long, thin tube with a high-intensity light and a high-resolution camera at the front. The instrument is inserted through an incision in the abdominal wall. As it moves along, the camera sends images to a video monitor.
Why Is Laparoscopy Performed?
Laparoscopy is often used to identify and diagnose the source of abdominal or pelvic pain. It’s usually performed when other, noninvasive methods are unable to help with diagnosis.
Your doctor may recommend laparoscopy to examine the following organs:
- small and large bowel
- pelvic or reproductive organs
By observing these areas with a laparoscope, your doctor can detect:
- an abdominal mass or tumor
- fluid in the abdominal cavity
- liver disease
- the effectiveness of certain treatments
- the degree to which a particular cancer has progressed
What Are the Risks of Laparoscopy?
The most common risks associated with laparoscopy are bleeding and infection. However, these are rare occurrences.
After your procedure, it’s important to watch for any signs of infection. Contact your doctor if you experience:
- stomach pain that becomes more intense over time
- redness, swelling, bleeding, or drainage at the incision sites
- continuous nausea or vomiting
- persistent cough
- shortness of breath
- inability to urinate
How Do I Prepare for Laparoscopy?
You should tell your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter medications you’re taking. Your doctor will tell you how they should be used before and after the procedure.
Your doctor may change the dose of any medications that could affect the outcome of laparoscopy. These drugs include:
- anticoagulants, such as blood thinners
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin or ibuprofen
- other medications that affect blood clotting
- herbal or dietary supplements
- vitamin K
You should also tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or think you might be pregnant. This will reduce the risk of harm to your developing baby.
Before laparoscopy, your doctor may order blood tests, urinalysis, electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), and chest X-ray. Your doctor might also perform certain imaging tests, including an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI scan.
These tests can help your doctor better understand the abnormality being examined during laparoscopy. The results also give your doctor a visual guide to the inside of your abdomen. This can improve the effectiveness of laparoscopy.
You’ll probably need to avoid eating and drinking for at least eight hours before laparoscopy. You should also arrange for a family member or friend to drive you home after the procedure. Laparoscopy is often performed using general anesthesia, which can make you drowsy and unable to drive for several hours after surgery.