What is laparoscopy?
Laparoscopy is a way of doing surgery using small incisions (cuts). It is different from ‘open’ surgery where the incision on the skin can be several inches long. It is also called ‘key hole surgery’.
How is laparoscopic surgery done?
Laparoscopic surgery uses a special instrument called a laparoscope. This is long thin telescope that is inserted into the abdomen through a small incision. It has a camera attached to it that allows the abdominal and pelvic organs to be examined, projected onto an electronic screen. Depending on the treatment required additional small incisions are made to pass other instruments into the abdomen.
What are the benefits of laparoscopy?
There are many benefits. It is associated with lower infection rates, less pain, shorter hospital stay and quicker recovery. The smaller scars allow you to heal faster.
What are the risks associated with laparoscopy?
Problems that occur with laparoscopy include the following:
• Bleeding or hernia (bulge) at the incision site
• Internal bleeding
• Damage to a blood vessel or other organ, such as the bowel, bladder or ureters
There is a chance of needing to convert to an open operation. Sometimes complications do not appear right away but occur a few days to a few weeks after surgery.
Why do I need to have a laparoscopy?
Laparoscopy can be used to look for the cause of pelvic pain, infertility or a pelvic mass and provide treatments such as tubal sterilisation and hysterectomy.
It can be used to diagnose and treat the following conditions: endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cyst, ectopic pregnancy, pelvic floor disorders and some types of cancer.
What pain relief will I have?
A laparoscopy is usually performed under general anaesthetic. This means that you will be asleep for the procedure. Local anaesthetic is also put into the small incisions.
What happens during laparoscopy?
Once you are asleep a small incision is made in or below your navel (belly button) or another area of your abdomen. The telescope is inserted through this small cut. The abdomen is then filled with gas to allow the pelvic organs to be seen more clearly. The camera attached to the telescope projects the pelvic organs on a screen. Other small incisions may be made in the abdomen for surgical instruments. Another instrument, called a uterine manipulator, may be inserted through the vagina and cervix into the uterus. This instrument is used to move the pelvic organs into view.
After the procedure, the instruments and most of the gas are removed. The small incisions are closed. Stitches are usually dissolvable and take between 7-10 days to dissolve.
What happens after laparoscopy?
Some women are able to go home the same day. For complex procedures, such as laparoscopic hysterectomy, an overnight stay in the hospital may be recommended. Your doctor will advise you.
What should I expect during recovery?
For a few days after the operation you may feel tired and have discomfort. You may be sore around the incisions made in your abdomen and navel. The tube put in your throat to help you breathe during the surgery may give you a sore throat. You may feel pain in your shoulder or back. This is from the small amount of gas used during the procedure that remains in your abdomen. It goes away on its own within a few hours or days.
Your doctor will let you know when you can return to your normal activities with recovery normally taking about 7-14 days. For more complex procedures it can take longer. You may be advised to avoid heavy lifting or exercise.