Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure your doctor uses to look at your uterus, ovaries, and Fallopian tubes. This procedure can help your doctor diagnose fibroids, scar tissue (adhesions), endometriosis, and blocked Fallopian tubes—all of which can cause infertility.
How it Works
The Laparoscopy Procedure
Laparoscopy is a short surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia at a hospital or surgery center. Once you are under anesthesia, the physician will insert a needle and inject a harmless gas into your abdomen. The gas raises the abdominal wall so that he or she will be able to see your reproductive organs more clearly. The physician will remove the needle and insert the laparoscope through a tiny incision. He or she will make another small incision in your lower abdomen in order to insert a probe. The physician uses the probe to move or lift the organs to see hidden areas.
During the procedure the physician may inject a dye through your cervix into your uterus and Fallopian tubes to see if they are open or blocked. If your doctor sees a problem, he or she can often treat it at this time with a surgical instrument inserted through another small incision made in your lower abdomen.
After the Laparoscopy
After the procedure, you will probably stay in the recovery room for about 3 or 4 hours. When you recover from the anesthesia, you will be able to go home. You should plan to have someone take you home after the procedure and stay with you during the first 24 hours. In some cases, you may require an overnight hospital stay.
It is normal after this procedure to feel sore and tired for a few days. You may feel pain in your shoulders and under your diaphragm. These pains are caused by gas bubbles from the procedure and should disappear in a day or two. Taking pain medication and walking or moving around should help relieve this pain. You should plan on taking a few days off from work.
If your physician diagnoses a problem, he or she can often correct the problem during the laparoscopy procedure. In the event of severe tubal disease or scar tissue, your best option may be in vitro fertilization (IVF).
What are the risks of laparoscopy?
Infection is the most common risk. Call your doctor if you exhibit any of the following symptoms:
- Swelling or redness around the incision or stitches
- Burning sensation when you urinate or frequent urination
- Discharge at the incision site
Other risks, which are rare, include complications from anesthesia, and bleeding or injury to the bowel or bladder, which the clinician may correct during the laparoscopy.
How many scars will I have and how large will they be?
Most patients will have two or three scars. The one in your navel will be about a 1/2-inch wide and the other scars in your lower abdomen will be about a 1/4-inch wide.