What is Diagnostic Laparoscopy?

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  • Written By: Solomon Branch
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 26 May 2019
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Diagnostic laparoscopy is a minor surgical procedure in which an incision is made in the abdomen, usually below the navel, to inspect the area of the abdomen or pelvis. Once the incision is made, the surgeon will insert a laparoscope, a tube that has an optical eyepiece and a magnifying unit. A small video camera will often be inserted as well, allowing a broader and recordable viewing experience. The procedure is primarily used to examine the reproductive system of females, such as the uterus and fallopian tubes, but can also be used to examine other organs in the area, such as the large and small intestine, liver, and gallbladder.

Typically, the test is performed if some underlying disease is suspected or to follow up and make sure there were no issues as the result of a procedure previously performed. Occasionally, a sample of tissue will also be taken to perform a biopsy on. It is a relatively common procedure for issues such as infertility and abdominal pain when other diagnostic procedures such as x-rays and lab tests are inconclusive.


Diagnostic laparoscopy is usually done on an outpatient basis, meaning the patient can go home the same day. Patients are often given general anesthesia before the procedure, meaning the patient is unconscious and not feeling pain, but occasionally it will be done with only local anesthesia, which keeps the patient awake to allow for feedback. Carbon dioxide gas is often used to help create more space in the cavity, allowing for a broader view.

Recovery from diagnostic laparoscopy varies from patient to patient, but most are kept in the hospital anywhere from one to four hours after the procedure. Many facilities will keep the patient for observation for at least a couple of hours after the patient has regained consciousness. Occasionally, a patient will be kept overnight for observation if there were difficulties.

There are typically few side effects of a diagnostic laparoscopy other than discomfort after the procedure. There can be some pain where the incision was made and if carbon dioxide gas was used, there could be some shoulder or abdominal discomfort, as well as the feeling of needing to urinate more frequently. Other symptoms might include mild nausea, swollen abdomen, and vaginal bleeding. Rarely, there might be bleeding in the abdomen, nausea, and vomiting, infection around the incision and a temperature. If any of these severe symptoms occur, a physician should be contacted.



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