What is diagnostic laparoscopy?
Diagnostic laparoscopy is a surgical procedure used to view organs inside the abdomen and pelvis. A laparoscope, a thin viewing tube similar to a telescope, is passed through a tiny incision (cut) in the abdomen. Using the laparoscope, the doctor can look directly at the outside of the organs, including liver, stomach, intestines, and reproductive organs.
Laparoscopy is often recommended when other diagnostic tests, such as ultrasound and X-ray, cannot confirm the cause of a condition. Your doctor might use laparoscopy to:
- Find the cause of pain in the pelvic and abdominal regions
- Examine a tissue mass
- Confirm endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease
- Look for blockage of the fallopian tubes or for other causes of infertility
- Biopsy a piece of tissue
- Help remove scar tissue on the inside of the body
How is the procedure performed?
You will be given a general anesthetic to relax your muscles and prevent pain during surgery.
Next, a tiny incision is made near the navel. The laparoscope is inserted through this incision, and the abdomen is inflated to make the organs easier to view. The laparoscope might also be equipped with surgical devices for taking tissue samples or removing scar tissue.
After surgery, patients generally stay in a recovery room for about one hour. Patients are then taken to an outpatient surgery unit for continued observation.
You will be discharged after you receive instructions for your home recovery. In most cases, patients can leave the center about four hours after laparoscopy. Rarely a patient will need to stay overnight to aid recovery.
Patients are asked to return to their doctors for follow-up checkups within two to eight weeks. Please confirm your follow-up appointment before leaving the hospital.
You will be unable to drive for 24 hours after surgery. You must have someone pick you up and stay with you for 24 hours after surgery.
Is laparoscopy safe?
Yes. Diagnostic laparoscopy is very safe. About three out of every 1,000 patients who have laparoscopy have complications. Possible complications include injury to nearby organs, bleeding, or a problem related to the anesthesia. Discuss any concerns you have with your surgeon.
Preparing for laparoscopy
Please follow these guidelines before coming for your laparoscopy:
- DO NOT eat, drink (including water), or smoke after midnight prior to the day of surgery.
- Wear low-heeled shoes the day of surgery. You might be drowsy from the anesthesia and unsteady on your feet.
- Do not wear jewelry. (Wedding rings may be worn.)
- Wear loose-fitting clothing. You will have some abdominal tenderness and cramping after surgery.
- Remove nail polish prior to surgery.
Recovering at home
- Don’t drink alcohol or drive for at least 24 hours after surgery.
- You can bathe anytime after surgery.
- You may remove the bandage the morning after the surgery. Steri-strips, which resemble tape, can be removed two to three days after surgery.
- Patients can return to work three days after surgery. (If you need a doctor’s letter excusing you from work, please request one at your pre-operative appointment.)
- Do not be concerned if your urine is green. A blue dye might have been used to check if your fallopian tubes are open.
- Your abdomen might be swollen for several days after the surgery. You may take Tylenol to relieve pain.
- You might have a sore throat for a few days. Try using a throat lozenge.
- You might have mild nausea. Try eating a light evening meal the day of surgery. Tea, soup, toast, gelatin, or crackers might help relieve nausea.
- Gas in the abdomen might cause discomfort in the neck, shoulders, and chest for 24 to 72 hours after surgery. Try taking a warm shower, using a heating pad, or walking.
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Persistent nausea and vomiting for more than 24 hours
- Temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 24 hours
- Redness, swelling, drainage, or bleeding around the incision
- Increasing pain of any sort.