Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure that is used to examine the organs that are located in the abdomen. It involves little work and it comes with minimal risks. It can also be referred to as diagnostic laparoscopy. Only a few small incisions are made.
A special instrument, known as laparoscope, is used in the procedure to examine the abdominal organs. It is a long, thin tube that comprises of a high-resolution camera placed on the front and aided by a high-intensity light. It is inserted into the abdomen through a small incision on the abdominal wall. The camera then sends feedback in the form of images to a video monitor.
Laparoscopy makes it possible for the doctor to get a view of the inside of your body without having to do an open surgery. It also enables the doctor to acquire biopsy samples.
Why Is Laparoscopy Performed?
Laparoscopy mostly comes in handy when the doctor wants to determine the source of pain or any complications in the pelvic area. It is often used as the final option if other diagnostic options failed to identify the problem. Some of these other alternatives are:
- CT Scan – It involves a series of unique X-rays that capture cross-sectional images of the abdomen.
- Ultrasound – uses sound waves of high frequency to develop images of the body.
- MRI – Creates images of the body through the use of magnet and radio waves.
Laparoscopy can also be used to acquire tissue samples or a biopsy from a specific organ located in the abdomen. Some of the body organs that can be accessed by use of laparoscopy include:
- Small and large bowel
- Reproductive or pelvic organs
How Is the Surgery Performed?
You will be put under general anesthesia to keep your muscles relaxed and to prevent pain during the procedure. An I.V. will then be inserted into your hand or arm. The next step involves moving of the uterus by use of a special kind of device that is inserted into the vagina.
A laparoscope is then inserted into the abdomen through a small incision which will be made near the navel. The abdomen is then inflated to enable the doctor to get a better view of the organs. A second incision is made along the pubic hairline for the purpose of inserting a special device for holding the fallopian tubes. They are then sealed by either clotting the tube using an electric current or by placing a clip or band over the tubes. After the fallopian tubes have been sealed, the surgeon will remove the laparoscope and the grasping device before applying small bandages over the surgical area.
What Can My Surgeon See?
The surgeon should be able to get a good view of a number, if not all, of the organs in your pelvic area. These organs include ovaries, uterus, bowel, fallopian tubes, bladder, the cul-de-sac, and the appendix. The doctor will be able to detect a number of complications such as ovarian, tubal cysts and appendicitis. He or she should also be able to see if you are experiencing extreme constipation, endometriosis, and if you have any tumors or growths. Any condition that may be detected during the surgical procedure can be treated. Other conditions that the surgeon can detect during the procedure include:
- A tumor or abdominal mass
- Any diseases of the liver
- Fluid in the abdominal cavity
- The progress of a particular type of cancer
He or she should also be able to check how effective certain treatments are.
How Long Does the Surgery Take?
Laparoscopy should last for about an hour or less under normal circumstances. However, you will feel like you’ve been asleep for only a few minutes.
Preparing for Laparoscopy
- It is recommended that you don’t eat, drink fluids, or smoke after midnight prior to the surgery.
- You should wear open shoes or low-heeled shoes to the hospital the day of the surgery. This is because you may feel drowsy for a little longer before the effects of the general anesthesia wear off.
- Leave your jewelry and other personal accessories at home.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes to the hospital. You will probably experience some cramping and tenderness in the abdominal area after the surgery.
- Carry a sanitary pad since you may experience some vaginal bleeding after the procedure.
- Get rid of nail polish before heading to the hospital.
- It is not advisable to drive for at least 24 hours after the surgery.
- You should avoid drinks with alcoholic content for at least 24 hours after the surgery.
- The bandages can be removed a day after the surgery. The steri-strips can be removed 2 to 3 days later.
- You can resume your daily activities, like working, 3 days after the surgery if it does not involve heavy lifting or vigorous activities.
- You may witness some swelling in your abdomen for a number of days.
- You will probably experience some abdominal pain for a few days. You can take painkillers to relieve the pain.
- In case you have a sore throat; you can try using throat lozenge.
- Try to take light meals for the first few days to reduce nausea.
- You may feel some discomfort in the shoulders, chest, and neck for 24-72 hours after surgery due to gas in the abdomen. This can be relieved by using heating pad, walking, or taking a warm bath or shower.
It is normal to experience nausea after undergoing a laparoscopy. There are medications to help relieve the nausea and can be taken before, during, or after the surgery. You can consult with your doctor for the best options for you to help with the nausea. Lying flat can help lessen the nausea in most cases. There are other natural remedies, such as ginger tea, that can also help. Consult with your doctor before settling on any herbs or supplements just to be on the safe side.
What Are the Benefits of Laparoscopy?
Recovering from the hospital after laparoscopy is a lot quicker. You may be allowed to go home just after 23 hours to continue with the recovery process there. The incisions made during the procedure are relatively small and you will experience less pain compared to other surgeries. That also means that the chances of any complications such as infections are slim. The cosmetic results are also not as bad since there will only be three or four small scars on the skin once you recover.
What Are the Risks Associated with Laparoscopic Surgery?
Even though laparoscopy is a safe procedure that involves minimal or no risks, you are bound to experience complications just like any other surgical procedure. A good example of these complications is acquiring injury to bladder, bowel, or blood vessels during the insertion of the surgical instruments. Other rare complications may include bleeding, infection, and deep vein thrombosis. Death may also occur in very rare and extreme conditions.