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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.
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What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Depending on the reason for your surgery, your doctor may do the following:
- Physical exam and review of medicines
- Blood tests (eg, pregnancy test, liver function, electrolyte status)
- Urinalysis to detect urinary tract infection and diabetes
- Ultrasound —a test that uses sound waves to visualize the inside of the body
- CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the body
- MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the inside of the body
In the days leading up to your procedure:
- Depending on the type of surgery, you may need to take a laxative or use an enema.
- Arrange for a ride home.
- The night before, eat a light meal. Unless told otherwise by your doctor, do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
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:
- Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs
- Blood thinners, such as clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)
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:
- Remove the dressing the morning after surgery.
- Avoid heavy lifting.
- Do not drink carbonated beverages for two days.
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.
National Library of Medicine
Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons
Women's Health Matters
Laparoscopy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at:
. Published 2009. Accessed July 21, 2009.
Patient information for diagnostic laparoscopy. Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons website. Available at:
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Surgery and other procedures for cancer treatment. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at:
. Updated June 2007. Accessed July 22, 2008.