Laparoscopy allows the inside of the abdomen to be examined either to perform specific surgical procedures using small incisions through which the surgeon can enter the abdominal cavity. It is always performed by a surgical team.
Laparoscopy -the process
When it is performed for diagnostic purposes the investigation is used to investigate for an abnormality which cannot be detected by other means. Operative laparoscopy is used to perform a surgical procedure without opening the abdomen. This is a relatively non-invasive technique and is used particularly in extra-uterine pregnancy, ovarian cysts, endometriosis and adhesions. Advances in operative laparoscopy now allow more complex procedures such as removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) or a kidney (nephrectomy) to be performed.
The investigation procedure
The procedure is always performed under general anaesthesia. It begins with an incision by the umbilicus through which a tiny camera is introduced. The purpose is to examine the inside of the abdomen, specifically the genital organs: uterus, ovaries and Fallopian tubes. Being only a few millimetres in diameter, this instrument allows mini-invasive procedures to be performed. In a surgical operation, additional incisions of between 5 millimetres and 12 millimetres are made in the abdomen. These allow the instruments required for these operations, some of which are becoming increasingly complex, to be inserted.
Possible risks of laparoscopy
Serious damage to internal abdominal organs can occur during the investigation although this is extremely rare. These require surgery or blood transfusion. A haematoma or abscess may also form around the scar following the laparoscopy. Venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism is extremely rare.
Source: Collège national des gynécologues et obstétriciens français, 2010
Laparoscopy is a relatively non-invasive procedure. © beerkoff, Fotolia