Diagnostic Laparoscopy

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Diagnostic laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure done to identify the cause of medical problems not found through non-invasive testing.

Diagnostic laparoscopy procedure

The diagnostic laparoscopy procedure is performed in an operating room under general anesthesia. A breathing tube will be inserted to support breathing during the procedure and an IV is needed for medication administration.

A small incision is made in the abdomen near the belly button to allow a tube to be inserted. Carbon dioxide gas is passed through the tube and into the abdominal cavity. The gas expands the abdominal walls to create space inside the abdomen.

A small video camera is then inserted into a second incision site and the inside of the abdomen is projected onto a video screen, allowing your physician to see the organs and inner abdomen clearly.

If biopsies are needed, an additional small incision will be made allowing surgical instruments to be passed.

Sometimes, a robotic device is used during diagnostic laparoscopy. During robotic assisted laparoscopy, your doctor controls the robotic device, which in turns operates the camera and surgical instruments.

Reasons for diagnostic laparoscopy

Your physician may perform a diagnostic laparoscopy to identify the source of the following:

  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Infertility
  • Pelvic mass
  • To rule out abdominal injury following trauma

A number of medical conditions can also be identified and treated through diagnostic laparoscopy, including:

  • Fibroid tumors
  • Endometriosis
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Some cancers

Following diagnostic laparoscopy

When the procedure is complete, your doctor will use surgical tape, glue or sutures to close the incision sites. After you have recovered from the anesthesia, you will likely be discharged to go home. You will not be permitted to drive, so arrangements should be made for someone to pick you up.

It is normal for patients to experience a mild sore throat from the breathing tube that was used during the procedure. Some patients have back or shoulder pain from the small amount of gas that remains in the abdomen. Incisional discomfort and nausea may also occur. All of these symptoms should resolve within a few days. If the symptoms persist or are severe, notify your doctor.

There is a slight risk other complications may occur following diagnostic laparoscopy. Report any signs of infection (fever, redness, swelling or discharge from the incision) or difficulty urinating to your physician as well.


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