A laparoscopy is a special investigation that allows your doctor to look directly into your abdomen using a special scope called a laparoscope. (A scope is any instrument with a microscope or camera used to look inside the body.) Your doctor can also take biopsies and ‘washing’ of peritoneal fluids for detailed examination during this test.
Your peritoneum is the space between the inside of your abdomen and the organs that lie within it.
Do I need to do anything beforehand?
You will have a general anaesthetic, so you must not eat or drink for at least six hours before your laparoscopy. You may need to have some blood taken and a tracing of your heart (Electrocardiogram – ECG) made before the test takes place. Your doctor will explain the procedure to you and ask you to sign a consent form before the investigation begins. If you take blood-thinning medicines or you are a diabetic, please be sure to tell your doctor or nurse beforehand.
Once in the operating theatre, and once you are asleep after your general anaesthetic, the doctor will make a small cut either above or below your tummy button. He/she will then insert a small scope and inject gas into your abdomen. The gas makes the abdomen bigger so that your doctor can thoroughly examine your internal organs. The doctor will make several more small cuts in your tummy, so he/she can insert more instruments that are necessary to do the examination. Once the procedure is finished, the gas will be sucked out of your abdomen and the instruments removed. Your doctor will close the wound with metal clips and apply dressings to the small cuts on your abdomen.
How will I feel after the test?
Immediately after your laparoscopy you will go to the recovery area for a few hours, until the anaesthetic has worn off. If you are allowed home on the same day, you will need someone to stay overnight with you to look after you.
For the next few days you may feel some discomfort or pain around the small cuts on your tummy. You can take painkillers for this. Your doctor or nurse will advise you on what is best.
Occasionally, you may have some shoulder pain. This is quite normal because the gas can irritate your diaphragm – the big muscle that separates your lungs from your abdomen. The way the nerves lie means you feel pain in your shoulder. This shoulder pain usually settles within two to three days.
Please make sure you do not bend or do any heavy lifting until your wounds heal.
When will I get the results?
If tissue samples have been taken, it can be 7 to 10 days until the results are available. Before you leave the hospital after your laparoscopy, please make sure you have an appointment to come back to see your doctor for the results.