Laparoscopy is a type of surgical procedure that allows a surgeon to access the inside of the abdomen (tummy) and pelvis without having to make large incision in the skin.
This procedure is also known as keyhole surgery or minimally invasive surgery.
Large incisions can be avoided during laparoscopy because the surgeon uses an instrument called a laparoscope.
This is a small tube that has a light source and a camera, which relays images of the inside of the abdomen or pelvis to a television monitor.
The advantages of this technique over traditional open surgery include:
a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery time
less pain and bleeding after the operation
Laparoscopy is most commonly used in:
gynaecology – the study and treatment of conditions affecting the female reproductive system
gastroenterology – the study and treatment of conditions affecting the digestive system
urology – the study and treatment of conditions affecting the urinary system
It’s often possible to diagnose a condition using non-invasive methods, such as an ultrasound scan, computerised tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Sometimes, however, the only way to confirm a diagnosis is to directly study the affected part of the body using a laparoscope.
Laparoscopies are now widely used to diagnose many different conditions and investigate certain symptoms. For example, they may be used for:
pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – a bacterial infection of the female upper genital tract, including the womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries
endometriosis – where small pieces of the womb lining (the endometrium) are found outside the womb
ectopic pregnancy – a pregnancy that develops outside the womb
ovarian cyst – a fluid-filled sac that develops on a woman’s ovary
fibroids – non-cancerous tumours that grow in or around the womb (uterus)
undescended testicles – a common childhood condition where a boy is born without one or both testicles in their scrotum
appendicitis – a painful swelling of the appendix (a small pouch connected to the large intestine)
Laparoscopic surgery can be used to treat a number of different conditions, including: