To diagnosis certain problems, your doctor may need to look directly into the abdomen at your reproductive organs. A laparoscope is a small fiberoptic telescope with a light that allows the physician to look into the abdomen through a small cut in the skin.

There are many reasons a laparoscopy might be performed.  These include looking for and treating endometriosis, adhesions, fibroids, ovarian cysts or ectopic pregnancy. Laparoscopy can also be used to assist in a vaginal hysterectomy or removal of ovaries. Laparoscopy is also used for sterilization by cutting, clipping or burning the fallopian tubes.

The procedure itself involves having an IV placed, going to sleep with general anesthesia and then having the laparoscope inserted into the abdomen through a small incision-usually just below the navel (belly button).

Usually carbon dioxide gas is placed into the abdomen so the pelvic organs can be seen more clearly. One to three small cuts are made just above the pubic bone. Instruments can be placed through the skin at these sites to move organs into view or perform procedures such as taking biopsies, cutting adhesions, or removing something like an ovary or tumor.

Laparoscopy is usually an outpatient procedure. You may have some nausea, scratchy throat, abdominal cramping and vaginal discharge  immediately after the surgery. Pain around the small incisions is usually minimal, since a long-acting numbing medication is injected at the time of surgery. Often, the most bothersome problem is discomfort that occurs when small carbon dioxide bubbles get trapped under the diaphragm and refer pain to the shoulder. This usually resolves within about two days.

Recovery from a laparoscopy is shorter than from regular surgery. We generally suggest to patients that they plan to be off work for 1-2 weeks, but many are able to return within 2-3 days.