Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School
Laparoscopy is done in an operating room. You wear a hospital gown. You have an IV (intravenous) line placed in your arm so that you can receive medicines through it.
You have general anesthesia for this test, which puts you to sleep so you are unconscious during the procedure. For general anesthesia, you breathe a mixture of gases through a mask. After the anesthetic takes effect, a tube may be put down your throat to help you breathe.
During laparoscopy, the laparoscope is inserted through a very small incision (less than an inch long), usually in or just below your navel. A gas such as carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide is pumped into your abdomen to help lift your abdominal wall off of your pelvic and abdominal organs so that the camera can view them clearly. If you are having any procedure more complicated than inspection of the pelvis or abdomen, your doctor makes one or more additional small incisions to allow other instruments to reach into your abdomen. For pelvic surgeries, it is common for the additional incision to be just below the pubic hair line. You should ask your surgeon where you might expect to have incisions as part of your laparoscopy.
A wide variety of instruments are useful in laparoscopy. These include instruments that can cut and place clips onto internal structures, burn away scar tissue or painful areas in the pelvis, or remove small biopsy samples or even whole internal organs (often in pieces so that larger incisions are not necessary). Your doctor can see the work he or she is doing by watching a television screen.
At the end of the surgery, the instruments are withdrawn, the gas is removed, and the incisions are stitched closed. Your anesthesia is stopped so that you can wake up within a few minutes after your laparoscopy is finished.