Laparoscopy is a procedure that allows a surgeon to look at the organs inside the patient’s abdomen and pelvis. A slender tube called a laparoscope is inserted into the patient’s abdomen through a small incision, as shown in the illustration.
The laparoscope is fitted with a light and video camera. Images of the abdominal and pelvic organs are displayed on a video monitor. The procedure may be recorded, and photographs may be taken.
Laparoscopy is also known as minimal access surgery, keyhole surgery or endoscopy. In many cases, it can replace the need for open surgery, which involves a single larger incision (cut) in the abdomen.
Diagnostic laparoscopy can be used to investigate the cause of symptoms such as pelvic pain, period problems or infertility. The doctor inspects the outside of the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and surrounding organs (such as the bladder, uterus, small intestine and large intestine) for abnormalities and signs of disease.
During laparoscopy, the surgeon can treat some conditions. This is called operative laparoscopy. Using additional incisions, the surgeon can insert specialised surgical instruments into the abdomen.
Laparoscopy is usually performed under general anaesthesia.
You may be given a sedative before the anaesthetic to help you relax.
Modern anaesthetic drugs are safe with few risks. Rarely, side effects from anaesthetic can be life threatening.