A laparoscopy is a procedure to examine the appearance of the outside surfaces of the uterus, tubes, ovaries and lining of the pelvis. It is performed by placing a long skinny telescope (called a laparoscope) through a 5mm incision in the belly button. Air is then pumped in to create space around the internal organs, and the telescope sends pictures to a television screen. Another 5mm incision is placed discreetly within the bikini line to allow instruments through.
When do you need a laparoscopy?
Reasons for doing a laparoscopy include:
- Pelvic pain
- Ovarian cysts
- Sterilisation (tying your tubes to prevent pregnancy)
- Ectopic pregnancy
What happens during the procedure?
A laparoscopy must be done in hospital, and the vast majority are day cases, meaning you won’t need to stay in hospital overnight. It requires a general anaesthetic – you will be fully asleep with a breathing tube in your throat.
Once you are asleep, the operation takes about 20 minutes for a diagnostic laparoscopy and longer for an operative laparoscopy. A diagnostic laparoscopy is one where no operating is done. An operative laparoscopy is one where something is fixed – for example, endometriosis or removal of an ovarian cyst – and this can take a variable amount of time depending on the complexity of the operation. Some operative laparoscopies take 90 minutes and some take longer.
How long does it take to recover?
After the operation, most patients feel a bit groggy from the anaesthetic, and this generally lasts the whole day, and occasionally into the next day. It is usual to have some abdominal pain after the operation. Initially it can require relatively strong pain relief, like paracetamol, ibuprofen and oxycodone together, but this will become less necessary after a day or two.
The pain should get better every day – if it doesnʼt, this could indicate a complication. In that case contact me for advice. Most people need 4–5 days off work to fully recover, and occasionally up to a week.