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Keyhole surgery is a type of surgery in which the surgeon uses only small cuts to get through the skin. It requires special training. People who have keyhole surgery usually recover quite quickly.
Laparoscopy is keyhole surgery used to examine or operate on the interior of the abdominal or pelvic cavities. It is performed under general anaesthesia, usually by a surgeon or gynaecologist (women's health specialist).
During laparoscopy (also known as peritoneoscopy), a small cut is made in the abdomen. A thin tube containing a light and camera, known as a laparoscope, is then inserted to look inside the abdomen and pelvis. Gas is used to inflate the belly so the surgeon can see the organs properly. One or more other small incisions may be made for other small instruments if needed.
illustration of a laproscopy
Image of a laparoscope inserted into the abdomen, with a second incision for small instruments.
When is laparoscopy used?
Laparoscopy is used to diagnosis conditions or perform surgery in the abdominal and pelvic area. It can be used to:
assess painful or heavy periods
remove the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries
diagnose or treat endometriosis
diagnose or remove ovarian cysts
assess female infertility
treat ectopic pregnancy
remove cysts or other tumours
remove the gall bladder
remove parts of the intestine
take a biopsy (a small tissue sample) for testing
search for the causes of ongoing abdominal or pelvic pain.
After the procedure
When you wake from the procedure, you may feel a little sore around the cuts. You may also have some pain in your shoulder - this is caused by pressure from the gas in your abdomen.
After a few hours in recovery, you are likely to be sent home with care instructions, including about any pain, dressings and stiches you may have.
Like any surgery, laparoscopy can have complications such as:
bleeding from the incisions
damage to an organ or blood vessel.
As with any operation, there is also a small risk of complications associated with general anaesthesia.
Notify the hospital or your doctor immediately if you have:
pain that is worsening or not improving
increasing pain in your shoulders
pain or other problems when urinating
bleeding that is increasing or not settling
a fever or temperature
you feel that you are not recovering relatively quickly
any other symptoms that you are concerned about.
(Image: Representation only)