This webpage will give you information about a diagnostic laparoscopy. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or relevant health professional.
What is a laparoscopy?
A diagnostic laparoscopy is an operation to look at the abdominal and pelvic organs using a small telescope. In some circumstances, minor treatments can be performed at the same time.
A diagnostic laparoscopy will help to find out if you have endometriosis, pelvic infection, adhesions, damaged fallopian tubes, an ectopic pregnancy, ovarian cysts or fibroids.
What are the benefits of surgery?
A diagnostic laparoscopy may allow your doctor to find out the cause of your symptoms.
A laparoscopy is the only way to definitively diagnose endometriosis. It can provide information about the location, extent and size of your endometriosis. Your surgeon may take a tissue sample for further biopsy testing.
Treatment using laparoscopic endometriosis surgery is often carried out at the same time as the diagnosis, so that only one minimally invasive surgery is needed.
Heat, laser, an electric current, or a beam of special gas can be passed through small skin incisions, using a tiny camera to guide your surgeon, to destroy or remove confirmed endometriosis, endometriotic cysts and release scar tissue (adhesions).
Do's and dont's after laparoscopy
Recovering from laparoscopy is a very personal experience. Here are some do’s and don’ts after your laparoscopy to help you recover well.
- Do follow your surgeon’s post-operative advice and keep your follow up appointment after your laparoscopy surgery.
- Do get up and move around as soon as you are able. You will recover more quickly if you are active.
- Do wear comfy loose-fitting clothes for the first few weeks after laparoscopy surgery. Your incision site will be tender and your abdomen swollen.
- Do arrange for an adult family member or friend to be with you for 24 hours following your laparoscopy as you may feel tired and groggy.
- Do expect some pain and discomfort in your lower abdomen for the first few days after your operation. You may also have some pain in your shoulder.
- Do use pain medication as directed – if you are in pain, you invariably move around less than if you have good pain control. Moving around reduces your risk of blood clots.
- Do keep scars clean and dry to aid their healing.
- Do keep a lookout for infection - treatment would be a course of antibiotics.
- Don’t expect too much of yourself for the first few days. You will probably be very tired and need lots of naps.
- Don’t drive a car or make any important decisions for 24 hours after your laparoscopy. The anaesthesia causes drowsiness.
- Don’t participate in any strenuous physical activity for about a week or so or as your doctor advises.
- Don’t panic if your period is more painful, longer, or heavier than usual. Internal healing takes much longer than external healing and this may cause more pain for your first few periods after laparoscopy.
- Don’t smoke - even if it is just while you are recovering. Your wound will heal faster and develop less scarring, and you will reduce your risk of chest problems after your anaesthetic if you stop smoking.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
A scan may be used to find the cause of your symptoms.
What does the operation involve?
A diagnostic laparoscopy is usually performed under a general anaesthetic.
Your gynaecologist will make several small cuts on your abdomen (see Figure 1).
They will place surgical instruments, along with a telescope, inside your abdomen and perform the operation.
What complications can happen?
1) General complications of any operation
- Feeling or being sick
- Infection of the surgical site (wound)
- Unsightly scarring
- Blood clots
2) Specific complications of this operation
- Damage to the abdominal wall or internal organs
- Developing a hernia near one of the cuts
- Surgical emphysema
- Failure to find out what the problem is
- Failed procedure
- Infection of the gynaecological organs or bladder
Laparoscopy recovery time
You should be able to go home the same day. A member of the healthcare team will tell you the results of the laparoscopy and will discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need.
You should rest for the first one to two days.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
A diagnostic laparoscopy helps to find out the cause of certain gynaecological problems. Some minor treatments can be performed at the same time.
Author: Mr Jeremy Hawe MBChB MRCOG
Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © 2011 Nucleus Medical Art. All rights reserved. www.nucleusinc.com
This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.
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