Diagnostic laparoscopy is a procedure that allows a doctor to look directly at the contents of a patient’s abdomen or pelvis. Diagnostic laparoscopy helps identify the cause of pain or a growth in the abdomen and pelvic area. It is done if x-rays or ultrasound results are unclear. The procedure may also be done instead of open surgery after an accident to see if there is any injury to the abdomen. Laparoscopy may be done before procedures to treat cancer (such as surgery to remove an organ), to find out whether the cancer has spread. If it has spread, treatment will change.
Before the Procedure
Your physician will also conduct a full physical exam—including blood and imaging tests.Expand Section
Always tell your health care provider or nurse what drugs you are taking, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.
During the days before the surgery:
- You may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), warfarin (Coumadin), and any other drugs that make it hard for your blood to clot.
- Ask your health care provider which drugs you should still take on the day of your surgery.
On the day of your surgery:
- You very often will be asked not to drink or eat anything for 6 – 12 hours before the surgery.
Take the drugs your health care provider told you to take with a small sip of water. Your health care provider or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital
The procedure is usually done in the hospital or outpatient surgical center under general anesthesia (while you are asleep and pain-free). The procedure is performed in the following way:
- The surgeon makes a small cut (incision) below the belly button (navel).
- A needle or tube is inserted into the incision. Carbon dioxide gas is passed into the abdomen through the needle or tube. The gas helps expand the area, giving the surgeon more room to work, and helping the surgeon see the organs more clearly.
- A tube is placed through the cut in your abdomen. A tiny video camera (laparoscope) goes through this tube and is used to see the inside of your pelvis and abdomen. More small cuts may be made if other instruments are needed to get a better view of certain organs.
- If you are having gynecologic laparoscopy, dye may be injected into your cervix area so the surgeon can view your fallopian tubes.
- After the exam, the gas, laparoscope, and instruments are removed, and the cuts are closed. You will have bandages over those areas
You will feel no pain during the procedure.
Afterward, the incisions may be sore. Your doctor may prescribe a pain reliever. You may also have shoulder pain for a few days. The gas used during the procedure can irritate the diaphragm, which shares some of the same nerves as the shoulder. You may also have an increased urge to urinate, since the gas can put pressure on the bladder. You will recover for a few hours at the hospital before going home. You will probably not stay overnight after a laparoscopy. You will not be allowed to drive home. Someone should be available to pick you up after the procedure.
Although there can be problems that result from surgery, we work very hard to make sure it is as safe as possible. However, problems can occur, even when things go as planned. You should be aware of these possible problems, how often they happen, and what will be done to correct them.
Possible risks during surgery include:
- Damage to another organ
- Blood clot in the legs or lungs
- Bowel obstruction
- Scar tissue