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A laparoscopy is an examination of the organs within the pelvis or abdomen using a flexible, tube-like telescope called a laparoscope. It is called a "keyhole" procedure because it involves only small incisions (cuts).
Laparoscopy is used to help find out what is causing problems such as gynaecological symptoms. It can be used to treat certain conditions, including ovarian cysts and endometriosis, using specially designed surgical instruments. The procedure can last from 30 minutes to over an hour, depending on what your surgeon needs to do inside the abdomen. It is normally carried out as a day case, requiring no overnight stay in hospital.
A laparoscopy is performed under general anaesthetic. This means you will be asleep and will feel no pain throughout the procedure.

Your specialist or hospital will talk to you about admission procedure, however before you come into hospital for your laparoscopy, you will also be asked to follow any fasting instructions given to you. Typically, you must not eat and drink for about six hours before a general anaesthetic. However, some anaesthetists allow occasional sips of water until two hours beforehand.

Two small incisions are made in the skin. The first is made just below the navel, where a hollow needle is used to inflate the abdomen slightly with carbon dioxide gas. This creates more room for your surgeon to work and allows a clearer view of the internal organs.

The second incision is made where the laparoscope is to be inserted (this depends on which organs are being investigated). The surgeon will then view and probe the area, looking directly through the scope or at pictures it sends to a video monitor.

If any treatment is performed, additional small cuts are made in order to insert the necessary instruments.

At the end of the operation, the instruments are removed, the carbon dioxide gas is allowed to escape through the laparoscope and the cuts are closed with two or three stitches.

You will be taken from the operating theatre to a recovery room, where you will come round from the anaesthetic under close supervision. After this, you will need to rest on your bed until the effects of the anaesthetic have passed. If you are sore, you may require painkillers, which can usually be taken every four to six hours. Please discuss this with your nurse, surgeon or anaesthetist.

When you feel ready, you can begin to drink and eat, starting with clear fluids such as water or apple juice.

If your operation has been planned as a day case, you will be able to go home once you have made a full recovery from the anaesthetic. However, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home and then stay with you for the first 24 hours. If you stay overnight following your operation, you should be ready to leave the next morning.

After you return home, if you need them, continue taking painkillers as advised by your specialist or the hospital. A general anaesthetic can temporarily affect your co-ordination and reasoning skills, so you should avoid driving, drinking alcohol, using power tools and making any vital decisions for 24 hours afterwards.

Take things gently for a day or two after returning home.

Depending on which procedures were performed, you may be able move about your home freely, although you should follow your surgeon's advice about heavy lifting or strenuous exercise.

There are no strict rules about returning to normal activities – people usually go back to work between three and seven days after leaving hospital.

You may shower or bath the next day and change the plasters after bathing. Keep possible irritants such as talc and bubble bath away from the cuts. You can remove the plasters after a few days. The stitches will either dissolve or be removed at a follow-up appointment.

Following a gynaecological operation performed laparoscopically, it is quite normal to have a small amount of vaginal bleeding. Some laparoscopies involve the injection of a dye, which can cause a blue vaginal discharge for a day or two.

Sexual intercourse may be resumed as soon as you feel ready or as advised by your surgeon. You should continue to use your usual form of contraception unless otherwise advised.

At your follow-up appointment, your surgeon will advise you when you can resume your other normal activities, including sport. A full recovery can take up to 12 weeks.

This information was published by Bupa Group's Health Content Team and has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals. To the best of their knowledge the information is current and based on reputable sources of medical evidence, however Bupa (Asia) Limited makes no representation or warranty as to the completeness or accuracy of the Content.

The information on this page, and any information on third party websites referred to on this page, is provided as a guide only. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical advice, nor is it intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. Bupa (Asia) Limited is not liable for any loss or damage you suffer arising out of the use of, or reliance on, the information.

Third party websites are not owned or controlled by Bupa and any individual may be able to access and post messages on them. Bupa is not responsible for the content or availability of these third party websites. Last updated August 2017.

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