What is laparoscopy?

Though it’s not the only tool used in many procedures, the laparoscope gives its name to a minimally invasive surgical technique that uses small incisions and digital imaging. Laparoscopy is an alternative to conventional open surgery, where incisions need to be large enough to permit line-of-sight with the surgical field.

Laparoscopy typically uses one or more incisions that are about 1 cm long. This compares to incisions 6 inches to 1 foot long for open surgery. Tubes placed in each laparoscopic incision are entry points for the laparoscope and other special instruments needed to get to the area that requires treatment. Due to the size of these incisions, laparoscopy is sometimes called keyhole surgery.

What are the benefits of laparoscopic surgery?

With the capabilities of 3-D digital imaging and the fine articulation of tools used in laparoscopic procedures, many of the procedures done with conventional techniques can be adapted to minimally invasive methods. Recovery time is the principal benefit of laparoscopy, and it’s one that offers several additional corollary improvements.

For example, some conventional surgeries can require a week in the hospital, and then 6-8 weeks recovering at home. A laparoscopic version of the same procedure may require only two days in a hospital and three weeks of recovery.

Also, your scars will be smaller and less painful. They will heal more quickly, and internal scarring scores these benefits as well. You’ll be back to regular activities much sooner, so there’s less income loss, if you’re taking time off from work.

How is laparoscopy used for gynecologic procedures?

Laparoscopy can be used in both diagnostic and surgical techniques, and occasionally, both in a single procedure. For diagnostics, a laparoscope may be used to detect the presence of uterine fibroids or endometriosis. This may be due to unexplained pelvic pain or infertility.

Surgical laparoscopy may be used for many gynecological procedures, including:

  • Hysterectomy
  • Removal of the ovaries or ovarian cysts
  • Removal of endometrial tissue, uterine fibroids, or adhesions
  • Tubal ligation reversal
  • Treatment of incontinence