Diagnostic laparoscopy is a procedure in which the doctor uses a laparoscope (a thin tube with a light) to look into the peritoneal cavity (the space that contains all of your abdominal and pelvic organs except the kidneys).
When is diagnostic laparoscopy used?
This procedure may be performed if you have:
- pain in your abdomen
- trouble getting pregnant
- abnormal fluid in your peritoneal cavity
- an unexplained defect on a liver scan
- a possible tubal pregnancy or undiagnosed pelvic mass
Depending on your problem, alternatives to diagnostic laparoscopy, which you can feel free to discuss with your doctor include:
- other procedures such as open abdominal surgery
- having x-rays and/or sonograms taken
- choosing not to have treatment given an understanding of the potential consequences
How should I prepare for a diagnostic laparoscopy?
Plan for your care and recovery after the procedure, especially if you are going to have general anesthesia. Allow yourself time to rest and try to find assistance with your day-to-day tasks.
Follow instructions provided by your doctor. No special preparation is needed for local or regional anesthesia. If you are going to have general anesthesia, eat a light meal, such as a soup or salad, the night before the procedure. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the day of the procedure. This restriction includes coffee, tea, and even water.
What happens during the procedure?
You will be given a general anesthetic, which will relax your muscles and make you feel as if you are in a deep sleep. It will also prevent you from feeling any pain.
Your peritoneal cavity will be inflated with carbon dioxide gas. This expands the cavity like a balloon and helps the doctor see your organs. The doctor will make a small incision in or just below your belly button, put in the gas, and then put the laparoscope through the cut. To look at the pelvis, for example, the surgeon puts another tool through a small cut in the lower abdomen. The doctor guides the laparoscope to explore the area and to look at certain organs. If the doctor finds a growth that should not be there, he or she may use the other tool to take a sample of the growth in order to send it to the lab for analysis. Your doctor may completely remove the growth, perhaps with a laser. When finished, he or she will remove the laparascope and the second tool and sew up the incisions.
What happens after the procedure?
You may stay in the hospital from one to four hours to recover from the anesthetic and to be observed for problems after the laparoscopic surgery. The anesthetic may cause sleepiness for a while, and you may also experience some shoulder pain and feel bloated. You may notice a change in your bowel habits for a few days.
You should avoid strenuous activities such as lifting and rigorous exercise. Ask your doctor how much you will be able to lift, what other steps should be taken and for how long, and when you should come back for a checkup.
What are the benefits of this procedure?
This minor surgical procedure may help your doctor to make a more accurate diagnosis without extensive surgery. This is beneficial to you because when compared to major surgery, it requires less recovery time and produces minimal scarring. After conducting this procedure your doctor will be able to decide what further treatments to suggest, such as medication or surgery.
What are the risks associated with this procedure?
The following complications from this procedure are very infrequent: damage to internal organs from the instruments used, bleeding, or infection.