What is laparoscopy?

Laparoscopy is a surgical technique that allows your surgeon to diagnose and treat many diseases and conditions of the chest, abdomen and pelvis with a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a long, thin camera that transmits pictures of the inside of your body to a video screen viewed by the surgeon. It is inserted through a small incision, typically ½ to 1 cm long. Special surgical tools are inserted through the laparoscope or through other small incisions.

Laparoscopy, also known as laparoscopic surgery, is a type of minimally invasive surgery. This involves making small incisions instead of the large one needed for open surgery. In laparoscopy, surgical tools are threaded through the smaller incisions and around tissues instead of cutting through them. This generally results in a quicker recovery and less pain than open surgery.

Laparoscopy still has risks and potential complications. You may have less invasive treatment options. Consider getting a second opinion about all of your treatment choices before having a laparoscopy.

Other surgical procedures that may be performed

Your surgeon may perform a biopsy during laparoscopy. A biopsy is the removal of a sample of cells or tissue to test for cancer and other diseases.

You may need open surgery if your surgeon finds an extensive or unexpected problem during laparoscopic surgery. Open surgery is performed by making a longer incision that allows your surgeon to directly view and access the surgical area.

Why is laparoscopy performed? 

Your surgeon may recommend laparoscopy to treat diseases and conditions of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. Your surgeon may only consider a laparoscopy for you if other treatment options that involve less risk of complications have been ineffective. Ask your surgeon about all of your treatment options and consider getting a second opinion before deciding on a laparoscopy.

Your surgeon may recommend a laparoscopy to treat:

  • Abdominal pain if the underlying cause has not been found through less invasive testing
  • Endocrine conditions, such as sickle cell disease, lymphoma, leukemia, and pancreatic pseudocyst, tumors or necrosis
  • Female reproductive system conditions, such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, birth control, chronic pelvic pain, and tumors or cancer of the reproductive organs
  • Hernia, which is when an organ, such as the intestines, bulges or protrudes through a weakness in the muscle
  • Intestinal conditions, such as appendicitis, colon cancer, diverticulitis, fecal incontinence, rectal prolapse, and inflammatory bowel disease (includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) 
  • Liver and gallbladder conditions, such as bile duct injury, liver cancer, gallstones, and cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder)
  • Lung conditions, such as malignant pleural effusion, recurrent pneumothorax, and lung cancer
  • Stomach and esophagus conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), paraesophageal hernia, or tumors
  • Trauma, to evaluate the abdomen or chest when injury is suspected to internal organs
  • Urinary tract conditions, such as prostate cancer, kidney cysts, large ureteral stone, female urinary incontinence, vaginal prolapse, bladder cancer, and kidney cancer
  • Vascular conditions, such as abdominal aortic aneurysm and blocked arteries

Who performs laparoscopy?

The following specialists perform laparoscopy:

  • General surgeons and pediatric surgeons specialize in the surgical treatment of a wide variety of diseases, disorders and conditions. Pediatric surgeons further specialize in surgery for infants, children and adolescents.
  • Obstetrician-gynecologists specialize in women’s health and pregnancy.
  • Colon and rectal surgeons specialize in the surgical treatment of diseases of the small intestine, colon, rectum, and anus, as well as intestine-related conditions of the liver, urinary tract, and female reproductive system. Colon and rectal surgeons are sometimes called proctologists.
  • Urologists and pediatric urologists specialize in diseases and conditions of the urinary tract and the male reproductive organs. Pediatric urologists further specialize in treating infants, children and adolescents.
  • Female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgeons are urologists or gynecologists who have completed specialized training in women’s pelvic floor disorders.