Laparoscopy is an internal exploratory examination of the abdominal cavity and the organs therein. The doctor uses a laparoscope. This examination is carried out in order to detect or exclude any defects. Laparoscopy is a type of endoscopy.
The three main reasons for laparoscopy have to do with a desire to have children, sudden pain in the lower abdomen and prolonged lower abdominal pain.
There are roughly two types of laparoscopies:
- Gynaecological laparoscopy. This is carried out by a gynaecologist. Here, the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries are examined.
- Surgical laparoscopy. This is carried out by a surgeon. Here, the appendix, a portion of the liver, the gall bladder and a large part of the intestine is seen. All organs are only visible from the outside.
The laparoscope is a long thin tube. At the end of the laparoscope, there is a small light and a camera. The light ensures that the doctor has good vision at the abdominal cavity and the organs. The camera is connected to a monitor, on which the doctor can follow the examination.
The examination is almost always performed under general anesthesia. The doctor usually makes an incision of approximately one centimeter in the lower edge of the navel and inserts a thin hollow needle through that incision into the abdominal cavity. Via this needle, the abdomen is filled with harmless carbon dioxide. This creates space in the abdomen in order to see the various organs. Then the doctor inserts the laparoscope through the same incision into the abdomen. Through an incision in the upper border of the pubic hair, other instruments are inserted into the abdominal cavity. Sometimes, instruments are also inserted through the vagina to be able to move the uterus or fill it with fluid in order to examine the conductance of the fallopian tubes. The latter often happens if desire to have children is the reason for the laparoscopy. Occasionally, a third incision at the side of the abdomen is necessary to gain better visualization of the organs with an additional auxiliary instrument.
Depending on what problems are encountered by the doctor, it may optionally be decided to start treatment immediately, for example removing adhesions or surgery to remove a fallopian tube or ovary.
Laparoscopy generally takes less than half an hour, but if interventions are done, it may take more time.