What is laparoscopy?
Laparoscopy is a diagnostic and surgical procedure used by doctors to view the insides of abdominal and reproductive organs. This procedure also helps in collecting tissue samples called biopsies. In this procedure, a thin tube similar to that of a telescope is inserted by making a small incision in the abdomen to view the pelvic organs like the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, liver, pancreas, stomach, gall blabber and spleen.
Laparoscopy is also used as a supportive procedure to confirm the results obtained with other diagnostic tests such as ultrasound or X-ray imaging.
How is laparoscopy performed?
The whole procedure is carried out under anaesthesia to prevent pain during the surgery and for the muscles to relax. A patient will be asked to lie down in a tilted position such that the head is lower than the feet. For inserting the laparoscope, a small incision is made near the navel. Your abdomen will be inflated for clear viewing of organs. Nowadays, advanced laparoscopes not just carry tiny cameras for viewing but also carry microsurgical devices for taking tissue samples or removing any scarring tissues.
Sometimes, a second incision is made at the pubic hairline for the insertion of additional instruments in cases of minor surgical procedures. Once the procedure is complete, the patient will be kept in the observation room for a few hours. Depending upon the extensivity of the procedure, the patient will be discharged within a few hours or the next day with follow-up appointments scheduled within two-four weeks.
Who would need a laparoscopy procedure?
Laparoscopy is used as a Diagnostic tool for different conditions of the abdomen or pelvic region. Advances in laparoscopy support minor surgical procedures too. The most common conditions in which laparoscopy is performed are:
- Female reproductive system- Observing the reproductive organs like fallopian tubes, and uterus with further treating them is conveniently done by laparoscopic procedures
- Digestive system- Viewing the liver, pancreas, stomach etc. for any inflammation or scarring and treating them further.
- Urinary system- Lower pelvic region and organs in it can be viewed for any abnormality or malfunctioning.
Observing these systems will help the doctor to detect
- Any mass or cancerous growth
- Presence of fluid in the abdominal cavity
- Any infection
- Progression of cancer
- Effectiveness of certain treatment regimens
Why is laparoscopy conducted?
Laparoscopy is used primarily to identify the source of any discomfort experienced in the pelvic region. It is a non-invasive procedure that can be used along with other diagnostic procedures such as ultrasound, CT scan or MRI scan to confirm the results. Laparoscopy is also used for taking biopsy samples from any particular organs in the abdominal and pelvic region.
If a patient is experiencing any discomfort or pain in the abdominal or pelvic region, he/she should see a healthcare provider. The doctor will talk the patient through the procedure and answer all related queries. Normally, one can return to a normal lifestyle within 3-4 days after laparoscopy. If you wish to get examined, speak to the doctors about laparoscopy or:
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Two major types of Laparoscopy
- Diagnostic laparoscopy is used to investigate some conditions like Inflammation of pelvic organs, endometriosis, ectopic pregnancy, appendicitis, fibroids, cysts and the cause of any abdominal pain. It also helps in diagnosing different cancer types.
- Operative laparoscopy is used for minimal procedures like removing an inflamed appendix, gallbladder, small section of inflamed intestine, hernias, and ulcers. In cases of ectopic pregnancy, the embryo is also removed.
What are the benefits of Laparoscopy?
Laparoscopy is beneficial in the sense that it is a minimally invasive procedure with
- Smaller incisions and overall cutting
- Shorter hospital stays
- Few internal and smaller external scars
- Faster healing and low pain
- Quick recovery and resumption of day-to-day activities
What are the common risks associated with laparoscopy?
Generally, laparoscopy is a safe procedure but is associated with some common risk symptoms to look out for like:
- Bleeding through the incision
- Fever or chills
- Pain in the abdominal region
- Swelling or redness at the incision site
- Nausea or vomiting
- Reaction to anaesthesia
- Inability to urinate
- Blood clot formation
Before scheduling a laparoscopy, the doctor will prescribe some medications and will change the doses of any previous medicines a patient might be taking like blood thinner medication, NSAIDS, vitamins or any dietary supplements. One should also make sure that she is not pregnant at that time. Also, discuss with the doctor about drug allergies.
A patient may experience some discomfort after laparoscopy such as a swollen abdomen, mild nausea, sore throat, and gastric issues in the abdomen for 24 to 72 hours after the procedure. Eating light meals and taking warm showers will help relieve these.
Ideally, 5 days of complete rest will help to heal completely allowing you to resume day-to-day activities.
Doctors usually recommend a supine position (lying on the back)) as the best position to sleep in after the laparoscopy procedure. Also placing a pillow under the knees can help relieve the pressure from the lower back.
It is generally recommended to wear very loose clothing or a over sized pull over dress for a week or soo after the procedure. One can also wear house slippers, slip on shoes, socks, mini pads.