Laparoscopy can look into the tummy to diagnose endometriosis, adhesions, ovarian cysts and fibroids. It is also possible to operate using the laparoscope, called laparoscopic, minimal access or keyhole surgery.
It is commonly thought that laparoscopic surgery turns a major operation into a minor operation. It is true that recovery is quicker after laparoscopic surgery, but the risks of the operation itself are the same as for a bigger cut on the tummy. The cuts are smaller, but it is the surgery inside that carries the risks, not the size of the cuts. Expect to spend 1-2 days in hospital and 2-6 weeks before you are comfortable to drive again and recovered to go back to work.
The operation is carried out under a general anaesthetic. A small cut (less than 2cm) is made inside the tummy button. A thin telescope, a laparoscope, is passed through this cut to see inside the tummy.
The internal organs are tightly packed away inside the tummy (think about looking inside a packed suitcase). To obtain a clear view, carbon dioxide gas is introduced to inflate the tummy like a balloon. This creates 'space' inside the tummy.
A second cut is made to insert forceps (similar to long tweezers) to lift up the Fallopian tubes and ovaries for a full inspection. If laparoscopic surgery is planned, further cuts are made. Laparoscopic scissors and graspers are passed through these cuts to operate. Usually the cuts are closed by dissolvable stitches and covered with small plasters.
The risk of serious complications from laparoscopic surgery is small. Common problems afterwards are a bruise, infection in the stitches or urine infection.
Laparoscopic surgery can
- Treat areas of endometriosis
- Release adhesions sticking one internal organ to another
- Remove ovarian cysts
- Remove the uterus (hysterectomy)
Laparoscopic surgery to remove areas of endometriosis helps to treat pain and improve the chance of getting pregnant naturally. It may be possible to treat all the areas at one operation, but if extensive, a second operation may be needed at a later date.
An ovarian cyst is inside the ovary, similar to an orange inside it’s peel. The cyst is peeled out of the ovary and removed through one of the skin cuts.
After the operation, it is normal to feel uncomfortable. You may feel bloated. Pain can be referred to the ribs and shoulders. You will be given painkillers and this discomfort will get better over the next day or two. You will be ready to go home once you are comfortable, have eaten, drunk and passed urine.