• Laparoscopy

    (Surgery with Keyhole Incisions)

    Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.


    Laparoscopy is a type of surgery done through several small incisions in the abdomen. Small tools and a laparoscope with a tiny camera, are placed through the incisions to allow the surgeon to see inside and perform surgical tasks. This type of surgery is popular, because it usually shortens recovery time. It also leaves small scars in most cases.
    Laparoscopic Instruments Being Placed in the Abdomen
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    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Reasons for Procedure

    Laparoscopy can be used for:
    It can also be done to help make a diagnosis.

    Possible Complications

    Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
    • Infection
    • Bleeding
    • Damage to blood vessels or organs
    • Problems related to anesthesia
    • The need for open surgery rather than laparoscopic surgery
    Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
    • Smoking
    • Obesity
    • Heart or lung conditions
    • Previous abdominal surgery
    • Diabetes

    What to Expect

    Prior to Procedure

    Depending on the reason for your surgery, your doctor may do the following:
    • Physical exam and review of medications
    • Blood tests, such as a pregnancy test, liver function test, and electrolyte status
    • Urine tests to detect urinary tract infection and diabetes
    • Imaging tests to evaluate internal structures:
    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 medications you are taking. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.


    In most cases, you will have general anesthesia. You will be asleep during the procedure.

    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 surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.

    Post-procedure Care

    When you are home, follow your doctor's instructions, which may include:
    • Removing the dressing the morning after surgery.
    • Avoiding heavy lifting.
    • Not drinking carbonated beverages for a brief period.
    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.

    Call Your Doctor

    It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
    • Persistent nausea and/or vomiting
    • Pain that you cannot control with the medications you were given
    • Headache, muscle aches, feeling faint or lightheaded
    • Difficulty urinating or having a bowel movement
    If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.


    American College of Surgeons http://www.facs.org

    Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons http://www.sages.org


    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

    Women's Health Matters http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca


    Diagnostic laparoscopy patient information from SAGES. Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.sages.org/publications/patient-information/patient-information-for-diagnostic-laparoscopy-from-sages. Accessed July 23, 2013.

    Laparoscopy. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq061.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130723T1313462445. Accessed July 23, 2013.

    6/2/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.

    Revision Information

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