Laparoscopy Definition and Patient Experiences

Definition

Laparoscopy is a procedure usually performed under general anesthesia. In this procedure the abdominal cavity is expanded by inserting carbon dioxide gas. Then, through a small incision inside the navel or below it, the doctor inserts the laparoscope. He will then be able to view outside the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. The doctor may also use this procedure to remove endometriosis or adhesions.

Medical Definition

Laparoscopy – examination of the interior of the abdomen by means of a laparoscope. (laser l., introduction of a laser beam into the abdomen through a laparoscope, done to vaporize tissue, as in treating endometriosis or to lyse adhesions.**

Laparoscope – an instrument comparable to an endoscope which, when inserted into peritoneal cavity, permits it to be inspected.**

Endoscope – an instrument used for direct visual inspection of hollow organs or body cavities. (…) Although the design of an endoscope may vary according to its specific use, all endoscopes have similar working elements. The viewing part (scope) may be a hollow metal or fiber tube fitted with a lens system that permits viewing in a variety of directions. The endoscope also has a light source, power cord, and power source. Accessories that might be used with an endoscope for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes include suction tip, tubes, and suction pump; forceps for removal of biopsy tissue or a foreign body; and electrode tip for cauterization. *

* B. F. Miller and C. B. Keane.Encyclopedia and dictionary of medicine, nursing and allied health. Second Edition. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1987 
** Dorland's illustrated medical dictionary. 28th Edition. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1994.

Patient experiences of Laproscopy:

First Experience:

Hysteroscopy/Laparoscopy – I had both of these done. It was outpatient surgery at the hospital. My surgery was about 3 hours, but this was longer than most, some could be less time. I had surgery on a Monday, and had to do the preparation on Sunday. I think the prep was the worst. Because I had the laparoscopy, I had to do bowel preparation the day before. I was able to have a light breakfast on Sunday (boiled egg, white toast, no butter), and then the rest of the day only clear liquids (broth, jello, etc). Had to do the Fleet bowel cleansing system. Which basically cleans you out, so by the end of the day, it’s just water coming out. Not a fun day, basically have to spend a lot of time on the toilet with diarrhea. Post surgery, I had no problems. The nurse said I must have taken her advice and drank a lot of water on Sunday, because I did well in the post-surgery recovery. I did not need to take any of the narcotic pain relief they prescribed. I did take Motrin – 600mg tablet (which they prescribed), early on Tues morning, and once on Wed after the surgery. 

I took 7 days off from work. I wanted to go back the next Monday, but my doctor said if I could, to stay home until I had my post surgery check up the following Tues. I think I could have returned to work the following Monday, but I took his advice just to be sure. I did not have to take any medications/hormones/antibiotics after the surgery.”

Second Experience:

“2 Hysteroscopy/laparoscopy (both under general anaesthetic), fasting required due to general anaesthetic Both performed at hospitals, first time in Wednesday, surgery Wednesday afternoon home next day. Second time (included laser treatment for endometriosis) in Wednesday, surgery Wednesday evening home Friday morning (I was quite sick after anaesthetic and the laser treatment was a bit more invasive). Had to avoid exercise for a week or two, had a couple of days off work for first surgery, second one was 2 weeks off work.”

Third Experience: 

1. Did you have to do anything prior to the procedure?
“No food starting the midnight before the laparoscopy. Can’t remember what I did for the hysteroscopies, I think I just skipped breakfast. My first doctor gave antibiotics starting the day before the procedure, but my second doctor started them the day of the procedure.”

2. Was the procedure performed at a hospital?
“My hysteroscopy/laparoscopy was performed in a hospital, but the procedures that were hysteroscopy-only were performed in the doctor’s office.”

3. Was it a day procedure or did you need to stay in the hospital?
“All were outpatient procedures. Did not stay in hospital.”

4. How long did the procedure last?
“The hysteroscopies lasted half an hour at most, but the combined lap/hyst took longer I think.”

5. What did happen immediately afterwards?
“I talked to the doctor and then went home and rested for a few hours.”

6. Did you experience any reactions after the procedure? Pains?
“Fast heartbeat for a couple hours due to anaesthesia. A little pain at the site of the laparoscopy incisions, but no pain after the hysteroscopies except sometimes a little cramping.”

7. Did you have to do or avoid anything specific after the procedure?
“No driving until the day after the procedure, because of the anaesthesia. No strenuous exercise the day of the procedure. After my first two procedures I had the balloon in for a week, so obviously no intercourse and no swimming and no tub baths. After the last three procedures I had no balloon (different doctor) so I didn’t have those restrictions. My first doctor gave antibiotics the day before, of, and after the procedure (3 days total). My second doctor gave antibiotics the day of the procedure and for two days afterwards (3 days total). Both doctors prescribed estrogen for a month after the procedure, followed by progesterone to bring on a period.”

8. Did you need to stop your daily routine/ or take days off from work? 
“After the laparoscopy I took a week off from work although I actually felt fine after a couple of days; I was just worried about healing properly; but taking the whole week off was probably not necessary. For the hysteroscopies I only took off the day of the procedure, and that was mostly because I needed time to recover from the anaesthetic, not the procedure itself; after the last couple of hysts, I worked from home in the afternoon.”

“Some doctors give general anaesthesia for hysteroscopies but for mine I was awake. (Although I had general anaesthesia for the laparoscopy of course.) Some doctors will videotape the procedure for you if you bring a blank videotape with you. The tape will show you exactly what the doctor was seeing through the hysteroscope.”

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