What is Laparoscopy?

Laparoscopy is a procedure that uses a laparoscope, a long thin instrument with a light source at its tip, to light up the inside of the abdomen or pelvis. Fiberoptic fibers carry images from a lens, also at the tip of the instrument, to a video monitor, which the surgeon can view in real time. The laparoscope can be moved around within the abdominal or pelvic cavity to allow the physician to visualize the entire area without opening the abdomen or pelvic cavity to the air.

Diagnostic laparoscopy is routinely performed under a general anesthetic as a day procedure case, without the need for an overnight stay in hospital. More complex laparoscopic treatment may require one or more nights as an inpatient, depending on the exact procedure.

How is Laparoscopy performed?

A laparoscopy involves two cuts approximately 5-10mm long. The first cut is made just below the navel. A hollow needle is inserted. The needle is then connected to a supply of carbon dioxide gas, which is pumped into the abdomen. This lifts the wall of the abdomen away from the organs inside, making it easier and safer to insert the laparoscope and examine the internal organs.

The laparoscope is inserted through a second small cut made on the abdomen. The exact position depends on the reason for the procedure. For instance, women having a gynecological investigation will usually have the incision in the belly button. This minimizes visible scarring.

If your surgeon needs to perform treatment or take samples (biopsies), additional small cuts are made for long, thin instruments that have been specially designed for this type of procedure. At the end of the procedure, the instruments are removed, the carbon dioxide gas is allowed to escape and the cuts are closed with stitches.