What is the Purpose of a Laparoscopy?
Laparoscopy is commonly known as ‘keyhole surgery’. It is a procedure in which the abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide, and a tiny surgical telescope is passed through a small incision (or keyhole) in the abdomen; usually in the bellybutton. Because the surgery is so minimal, it gives patients a number of important advantages, such as reduced pain, smaller scars, and a more rapid recovery.
This surgery can allow your gynaecologist to determine whether any disease is present in your abdomen or pelvic region. Common conditions diagnosed via laparoscopy include endometriosis and ovarian cysts. This procedure can also be helped to diagnose chronic pain, by eliminating potential causes as the root.
The surgical telescope can be used not only to examine the pelvic organs, but also to undertake procedures. By using the laparoscope to view the pelvis, other instruments can be passed through the keyhole incisions and guided towards areas to be treated. Common operations aided by a laparoscope include:
- Removal of fallopian tubes or ovaries
- Removal of cysts or tumours
- Treatment of scar tissue and endometriosis
- Treatment of prolapse
- Assessment o f pain or infertility
How Will Your Gynaecologist Perform Your Laparoscopy?
As with all surgeries, the first step is preparation. If your gynaecologist believes you will benefit from laparoscopy, certain steps will be taken. These will include explaining the nature and purpose of the procedure, obtaining your consent, and making the necessary arrangements with the hospital or procedure unit. It will also include arranging any necessary tests, such as heart tests, blood tests, ultrasounds and x-rays.
As a laparoscopy is conducted under general anaesthetic, the anaesthetist or staff from your pre-admission clinic may want to speak with you or examine you before the procedure. Though you will be asleep through the procedure and won’t feel a thing, every patient is different, and the anaesthetists will make changes as required to suit your needs. Patients are usually asked to avoid food and water for at least six hours prior to surgery, and in some cases you may be asked to prepare your bowels (using fluids to empty the bowel prior to surgery).
It is very important to ask your health professionals whether any of your usual medication will need to be stopped before surgery; this is especially important if you are taking any blood thinning medications such as aspirin.
If you would like additional information on preparing for anaesthetic and what to expect afterwards, visit The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.
What Else Should You Know About this Procedure?
Laparoscopy is a safe and commonplace procedure, with more than 25,000 performed in Australia every year. Though studies have shown that less than 1% of laparoscopy procedures have complications, it is still important to understand that all operations have at least some degree of risk. Potential complications, however unlikely, include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bleeding during or after the procedure
- Blood clots in the legs or lungs
- A hernia at one of the incision sites
- Damage to the bladder and bowel
- Carbon dioxide being trapped in the skin
Even without complications, you may wake up after anaesthesia feeling disoriented, sleepy or even nauseous. These feelings should pass quickly. There might be some localised pain at the site of the incisions, or some uncomfortable bloating due to carbon dioxide; both of these can be managed by pain-relieving medications, which you will commonly be given.
Depending on the length and complexity of your surgery, you may also feel tired or uncomfortable for a few days. There may also be some vaginal bleeding, particularly if there has been a hysterectomy performed at the same time.
It is important to notify the hospital or your doctor if your pain is not improving, or you continue to feel unwell after the procedure. You will easily be instructed how to manage your problems, and treated.
For more information on Laproscopy, view The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines.
To make an appointment with Dr.Nicole Stamatopoulos for Laproscopy, click here.