A laparoscopy is a procedure to allow your healthcare provider to look at the organs and tissues inside your belly or pelvis (the area below your belly and between the hips). These organs include the liver, intestines, gallbladder, appendix and, in women, the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. A laparoscope is a thin tube with a light and tiny camera. It is placed through a small cut, usually in the belly button. The camera shows a view of the abdominal organs on a TV monitor.
Laparoscopy may help your provider find and treat the cause of medical problems you may be having, such as:
Pain, an abnormal lump, or fluid in your belly
Trouble getting pregnant
A possible tubal pregnancy
Uterine or ovarian problems
How is a laparoscopy done?
Before the procedure:
Your healthcare provider will ask you to sign a consent form for a laparoscopy. The consent form will state the reason you are having the procedure, what happens during the procedure, and what you may expect afterward.
Tell your healthcare provider if you are allergic to any medicines.
Tell your healthcare provider if you are taking any medicines, including nonprescription drugs, herbal remedies, or illegal drugs (if any).
You will have a small tube (IV catheter) inserted into a vein in your hand or arm. This will allow for medicine to be given directly into your blood and to give you fluids, if needed.
During the procedure:
You will be given medicines to prevent pain during your surgery. These may include:
Regional anesthesia: Numbs the lower half of your body while you remain awake.
General anesthesia: Relaxes your muscles and puts you to sleep. A breathing tube is usually put in your throat when you have general anesthesia.
You may have a small tube (catheter) placed into your bladder through the urethra (the opening from the bladder to the outside of the body) to drain and measure urine from your bladder.
Your provider makes a small cut next to your bellybutton.
Your belly will be inflated with carbon dioxide gas. This helps your healthcare provider see your organs better.
Your provider puts the laparoscope through the cut. The laparoscope is used to look at the organs and tissues in your belly and to guide other tools.
Your provider may put other tools through other small cuts in your belly.
If an abnormal growth is found, a biopsy may be taken to help make a diagnosis. A biopsy is the removal of a small sample of tissue removed for testing. Your provider may also remove entire growth.
Your provider may treat any other abnormal condition that is found during the procedure.
When finished, your provider releases most of the gas through the tube of the laparoscope, removes the scope and other tools, and sews up the cuts.
After the procedure:
You may stay in the hospital for a few hours or several days to recover, depending on your condition and what was done during the procedure.
If you go home the same day as your procedure, someone must drive you home.
If you stay in the hospital after your procedure:
You will be checked often by nursing staff.
Your blood oxygen level will be monitored by a sensor that is attached to your finger or earlobe.
Your heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature will be checked regularly.
Your surgical wound will be checked regularly.
For the first day or so after surgery, you may not be given anything to eat or drink. Then you will be allowed to have small amounts of water, later clear liquids, and then some solid food until you are able to have a regular diet.
You may have a small tube (catheter) placed into your bladder through the urethra (the opening from the bladder to the outside of the body) to measure the amount of urine in and drain urine from the bladder.
Your healthcare provider will talk to you about what was found, what was done, and if anything else is needed.
You may feel bloated or have a change in bowel habits for a few days.
You may have some shoulder pain from the carbon dioxide gas used to expand your belly.
Your provider may prescribe medicine or other therapy to:
Treat or prevent an infection
Prevent side effects, such as nausea or constipation, from other treatments
Soften your bowel movement
What can I do to help?
You will need to tell your healthcare team if you have new or worsening:
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Nausea or vomiting
Shortness of breath
Abdominal cramps or pain or bloating
Swelling, redness, or pain in your legs
Diarrhea, constipation, or other intestinal problems
Redness, swelling, pain, warmth, or drainage from your surgical wound
Fever, chills, or muscle aches.
Ask questions about any medicine or treatment or information that you do not understand.
How long will I be in the hospital?
How long you stay in the hospital depends on many things, such as your general health, why you are in the hospital, and the treatment you need. The average amount of time to stay in the hospital is 3 to 6 days after the procedure. Talk with your provider about how long your stay may be.
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Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2015-02-03 Last reviewed: 2015-01-07
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Townsend, C, Beauchamp, R, Evers, B, & Mattox, K. (2012). Sabiston textbook of surgery [19th ed.]. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders.
US Department of Health & Human Services. (2012) National and regional estimates on hospital use for all patients from the HCUP nationwide inpatient sample. Agency for healthcare research and quality website. Retrieved 07/22/2014 from http://hcupnet.ahrq.gov/HCUPnet.jsp.