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.

Laparoscopy allows your doctor to see inside your body in real time, without open surgery. Your doctor also can obtain biopsy samples during this procedure.

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.

In many cases, abdominal problems can also be diagnosed with imaging techniques such as:

• Ultrasound, which uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the body

• CT scan, which is a series of special X-rays that take cross-sectional images of the body

• MRI, which uses magnets and radio waves to produce images of the body

Laparoscopy is performed when these tests don’t provide enough information or insight for a diagnosis. The procedure may also be used to take a biopsy, or sample of tissue, from a particular organ in the abdomen.

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

• chills

• fever

• redness, swelling, bleeding, or drainage at the incision sites

• continuous nausea or vomiting

• persistent cough

• shortness of breath

• inability to urinate

• lightheadedness

There’s also a small risk of damage to the organs being examined during laparoscopy. Blood and other fluids may leak out into your body if an organ is punctured. In this case, you’ll need other surgery to repair the damage.