(Surgery With Keyhole Incisions)
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Laparoscopy is a type of surgery done through several small incisions in the abdomen. Small tools and a laparoscope (tiny camera) are placed through the incisions to allow the surgeon to see inside the belly and perform surgical tasks. This type of surgery is very popular, as it usually shortens recovery time. It also leaves only very small scars in most cases.
Reasons for Procedure
Many types of surgery can now be done with a laparoscope. Some examples include:
It can also be done to help make a diagnosis.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a laparoscopy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Depending on the reason for your surgery, your doctor may do the following:
In the days leading up to your procedure:
Talk to your doctor about the medicines you are taking. Up to one week before the procedure, you may be asked to stop taking some medicines such as:
Most commonly, you will have general anesthesia—You will be asleep.
Description of the Procedure
After you are asleep and do not feel any pain, a needle will be inserted to inject carbon dioxide into your abdomen. The gas will make your abdomen expand. This will make it easier to see the organs. The laparoscope will then be inserted through a small hole that is cut in the skin. The laparoscope lights, magnifies, and projects an image onto a video screen. The area will then be inspected.
If necessary, several other incisions will be made in the abdomen. Tiny tools will be inserted to take biopsies or do surgery. The incisions will be closed with stitches or clips.
How Long Will It Take?
This varies greatly depending on the procedure
Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will prevent pain during the procedure. You may have soreness for a couple of days during recovery. Ask your doctor about pain medicine to help manage pain. You may also feel bloated or have pain in your shoulder from the gas. This can last up to three days.
Once home, follow your doctor's instructions, which may include:
Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water. You should be able to go back to regular activities in about one week. If the procedure was done to help diagnose a condition, your doctor will suggest treatment options. Biopsy results may take up to a week to come back.
Call Your Doctor
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occur:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
National Library of Medicine
Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons
Women's Health Matters
Laparoscopy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp061.cfm. Published 2009. Accessed July 21, 2009.
Patient information for diagnostic laparoscopy. Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.sages.org/publication/id/PI02/. Published 2004. Accessed July 22, 2008.
Surgery and other procedures for cancer treatment. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated June 2007. Accessed July 22, 2008.
6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Daus Mahnke, MD