What is pelvic laparoscopy?

Pelvic laparoscopy is a type of surgery that allows your doctor to see and treat organs and tissues inside your pelvis with a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a long, thin camera that is inserted through a small abdominal incision, typically ½ to 1 cm long. The camera transmits pictures of the inside of your body to a video screen viewed by your doctor as he or she performs your surgery. 

Many different diseases and conditions can be treated during pelvic laparoscopy. These include uterine conditions, ovarian cysts, and appendicitis. Surgeons also perform laparoscopic tubal ligation for permanent birth control.

Pelvic laparoscopy is a type of minimally invasive surgery. This involves making small incisions instead of the larger one needed for open surgery. Surgical tools are threaded through the smaller incisions and around tissues instead of cutting through them. This generally results in quicker recovery and less pain than open surgery. 

A pelvic laparoscopy is a common but major surgery with serious 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 pelvic laparoscopy.

Other surgical procedures that may be performed

Your doctor may perform other procedures in addition to a pelvic laparoscopy. An open surgical procedure may be needed if a problem is found during laparoscopy that must be treated using open surgery. Open surgery involves making a longer incision that allows your doctor to directly view and access the surgical area.

There are many surgeries that may be performed during pelvic laparoscopy. Common procedures include:

  • Hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus.
  • Laparoscopic robotic surgery is laparoscopic surgery that is assisted by a computerized surgical robot.
  • Removal of abnormal tissue can include removal of a pelvic mass, scar tissue, uterine fibroids, diseased ovaries or fallopian tubes, and endometrial tissue, which is uterine tissue that grows outside the uterus.
  • Tissue biopsy is the removal of samples of tissue to be examined for disease or malignancy.
  • Tubal ligation is a form of birth control in which the fallopian tubes are closed. This is considered permanent.

Why is pelvic laparoscopy performed?

Your doctor may recommend a pelvic laparoscopy to treat certain diseases and conditions of the pelvic organs. These include the bladder, rectum, prostate, and female reproductive organs. 

Your doctor may only consider pelvic laparoscopy for you if other treatment options that involve less risk of complications have been ineffective. Some conditions may require open surgery. Ask your doctor about all of your treatment options and consider getting a second opinion before deciding on a pelvic laparoscopy.

Your doctor may recommend a pelvic laparoscopy to treat:

  • Appendicitis, which is an inflammation and possibly infection of the appendix
  • Cancer of the rectum, prostate, bladder or a woman’s reproductive organs or a man’s prostate
  • Chronic pelvic or lower abdominal pain that is unexplained through less invasive testing or does not improve with other treatments 
  • Ectopic pregnancy, which is a pregnancy that grows in the fallopian tube instead of in the uterus
  • Endometriosis, which is an abnormal growth of uterine tissue outside the uterus
  • Fecal or urinary incontinence. Pelvic laparoscopy is used to identify the underlying cause and treat several types of urinary incontinence as well as fecal incontinence. 
  • Infertility. Pelvic laparoscopy may be used to diagnose and treat the underlying cause of infertility.
  • Ovarian cysts, which are cysts that grow on the ovaries
  • Ovary torsion, in which an ovary has twisted into a position that cuts off circulation to the ovary
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease or tubo-ovarian abscess, which is an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs, often due to a sexually transmitted disease 
  • Rectal or vaginal prolapse, which is a dropping of the rectum or vagina out of it normal position
  • Uterine fibroids, which are benign tumors of the uterus