A laparoscope looks like a hysteroscope, but it is inserted into the pelvic and abdominal cavities to diagnose and treat gynecologic disorders. Instead of using fluid to expand the cavity, carbon dioxide gas is introduced to provide visualization of the internal organs. A camera is attached to guide the surgeon and to document the findings with photographs.
Laparoscopy has many uses, including the diagnosis and treatment of chronic pelvic pain, endometriosis, fibroid tumors, infertility, and ovarian cysts.
Many surgical procedures that used to be performed through larger abdominal incisions are now performed laparoscopically.
Some of the laparoscopic procedures include:
- Gynecologic cancer staging
- Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus with or without the cervix)
- Myomectomy (removal of fibroids)
- Sterilization (tubal ligation)
- Tubal reanastomosis
Because laparoscopic surgery eliminates the need for large abdominal incisions, the recovery time is extremely fast. Even with hysterectomy procedures, most women are back to normal activities within a few weeks.
Not all gynecologic conditions can be treated with laparoscopy. Very large tumors or masses may need open surgery. Extensive endometriosis can also be very difficult to treat laparoscopically because of associated adhesions (scar tissue), which can involve the adjacent bowel, bladder, ureters, etc. Adhesions cannot be diagnosed with sonography or CT scans, so an operation may start with the laparoscope and end with an open procedure, if extensive adhesive disease is present.
As with any surgery, there is a small risk of problems with laparoscopy. It is important to choose a surgeon who has experience in advanced laparoscopy to properly evaluate you for this type of procedure.