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Laparoscopy

How It Is Done

Laparoscopy is done by a surgeon or a doctor of women's health (gynecologist). General anesthesia is generally used, but other types of anesthesia, such as spinal anesthesia, may be used. Talk with your doctor about what choice is best for you.

About an hour before the surgery, you will empty your bladder. You will get fluids and medicine through an intravenous (IV) in a vein in your arm. You may get a medicine (sedative) to help you relax.

Several procedures may be done after you get your anesthesia and are relaxed or asleep.

  • An airway will be placed in your throat to help you breathe if you get general anesthesia.
  • A thin flexible tube (urinary catheter) may be put through your urethra into the bladder.
  • Some of your pubic hair may be shaved.
  • Your belly and pelvic area will be washed with a special soap.
  • For women, your doctor may do a pelvic exam before putting a thin tube (cannula) through your vagina into the uterus. The cannula lets your doctor move your uterus and ovaries to get a better look at the belly organs.

During laparoscopy, a small incision is made in the belly. More than one incision may be made if other tools will be used during the surgery. A hollow needle is put through the first incision and gas (carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide) is slowly put through the needle to inflate the belly. The gas lifts the abdominal wall away from the organs inside so your doctor can see clearly.

A thin, lighted tube (laparoscope) is then put through the incision to look at the organs. Other tools can be used to take tissue samples, fix damage, or drain cysts. A laser may be attached to the laparoscope to help with the surgery.

After the surgery, all the tools will be removed and the gas will be released. The incisions will be closed with stitches and covered with a bandage. The scar will be very small and will fade over time.

Laparoscopy takes 30 to 90 minutes, depending on what is done, but can take longer if a condition (such as endometriosis) is found and treated. After the laparoscopy, you will go to the recovery room for 2 to 4 hours. You can usually do your normal activities the next day, but do not do any strenuous activity or exercise for about a week.

How It Feels

If general anesthesia is used, you will be asleep and feel nothing. After you wake up, you will feel sleepy for several hours. You may be tired and have some pain for a few days after a laparoscopy. You may have a mild sore throat from the tube in your throat to help you breathe. Use throat lozenges and gargle with warm salt water to help your sore throat.

If you have other types of anesthesia, you may have pain for a few days when the initial numbness wears off.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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