Laparoscopic Surgery

Procedure Overview

Laparoscopy is a procedure used to examine the organs of the abdominal cavity. Laparoscopy uses a laparoscope, a thin, flexible tube containing a video camera. The laparoscope is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen and produces images that can be viewed on a computer screen. A similar procedure can be used to view the organs of the pelvis (gynecologic laparoscopy or pelviscopy).

The advantage of laparoscopy is that it allows a direct view of the abdominal organs and structures without the need for major surgery. Laparoscopy can also be used to biopsy or surgical procedures, such as an appendectomy or cholecystectomy (removal of the gallbladder).

Other related procedures that may be used to examine the abdomen include abdominal radiography, computed tomography (CT) of the abdomen, abdominal ultrasound, and abdominal angiogram. Please see these procedures for additional information.

Reasons for Procedure

The abdomen contains organs of the gastrointestinal tract, urinary and reproductive endocrine. An abdominal laparoscopy may be performed to evaluate the abdomen and its organs for tumors and other lesions, injuries, intra-abdominal bleeding, infections, unexplained abdominal pain, obstructions, or other conditions, particularly when another type of examination and physical examination, X-ray , or CT scan is inconclusive.

Laparoscopy can be used to determine the stage of cancer of the abdominal organs. It can also be used to assess abdominal trauma, including depth and location of the lesion, and the degree of intra-abdominal bleeding.

Gynecologic laparoscopy can be used to assess pelvic pain and problems, ovarian cysts and fibroids, and to evaluate the fallopian tubes in women who suffer from infertility. Other uses include the treatment of endometriosis and removal of an ectopic pregnancy in the fallopian tubes.

There may be other reasons for your physician to recommend a laparoscopy.

Risks of the Procedure

As with any surgical procedure, complications may occur. Possible complications of laparoscopy include, but are not limited to bleeding from the insertion site and misplacement of the gas used to help visualize the organs.

In certain situations, laparoscopy may be contraindicated. These situations include patients with advanced malignancies of the abdominal wall, chronic tuberculosis, thrombocytopenia (low platelet count in the blood) or other bleeding problems, multiple surgical adhesions, and patients taking anticoagulants.

There may be other risks depending upon your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your physician prior to the procedure.

Certain factors or conditions may interfere with a laparoscopy. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Obesity
  • History of multiple surgeries resulting in adhesions that prevent safe access to the abdomen with a laparoscope
  • The blood of an intra-abdominal hemorrhage may prevent visualization with the laparoscope