(Surgery With Keyhole Incisions)
Laparoscopy is a type of surgery done through several small incisions in the abdomen. Small tools and a laparoscope with a tiny camera, are placed through the incisions to allow the surgeon to see inside and perform surgical tasks. This type of surgery is popular, because it usually shortens recovery time. It also leaves small scars in most cases.
Laparoscopic Instruments Being Placed in the Abdomen
Reasons for Procedure
Laparoscopy can be used for:
- Hernia repair
- Biopsy of abdominal organs
- Gallbladder, gallstone, or kidney stone removal
- Tubal ligation
- Ectopic pregnancy surgery
- Fibroid tumor removal
- Adrenal gland removal
- Lysis of adhesions in abdomen
It can also be done to help make a diagnosis.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Damage to blood vessels or organs
- Problems related to anesthesia
- The need for open surgery rather than laparoscopic surgery
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Depending on the reason for your surgery, your doctor may do the following:
- Physical exam and review of medications
- Blood tests, such as a pregnancy test, liver function test, and electrolyte status
- Urine tests to detect urinary tract infection and diabetes
- Imaging tests to evaluate internal structures:
In the days leading up to your procedure:
- Depending on the type of surgery, you may need to take a laxative or use an enema.
- Arrange for a ride home.
- The night before, eat a light meal. Unless told otherwise by your doctor, do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
Talk to your doctor about the medications you are taking. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
In most cases, you will have general anesthesia. You will be asleep during the procedure.
Description of the Procedure
After you are asleep and do not feel any pain, a needle will be inserted to inject carbon dioxide into your abdomen. The gas will make your abdomen expand. This will make it easier to see the organs. The laparoscope will then be inserted through a small hole that is cut in the skin. The laparoscope lights, magnifies, and projects an image onto a video screen. The area will then be inspected.
If necessary, several other incisions will be made in the abdomen. Tiny tools will be inserted to take biopsies or do surgery. The incisions will be closed with stitches or clips.
Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
When you are home, follow your doctor's instructions, which may include:
- Removing the dressing the morning after surgery.
- Avoiding heavy lifting.
- Not drinking carbonated beverages for a brief period.
You should be able to go back to regular activities in about one week. If the procedure was done to help diagnose a condition, your doctor will suggest treatment options. Biopsy results may take up to a week to come back.
Call Your Doctor
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
- Persistent nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medications you were given
- Pain that you cannot control with the medications you've been given
- Headache, muscle aches, feeling faint or lightheaded
- Difficulty urinating or having a bowel movement
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American College of Surgeons
Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons
Women's Health Matters
Diagnostic laparoscopy patient information from SAGES. Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.sages.org/publications/patient-information/patient-information-for-diagnostic-laparoscopy-from-sages. Accessed July 23, 2013.
Laparoscopy. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq061.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130723T1313462445. Published April 2013. Accessed July 23, 2013.
6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.