laparoscopy is an investigation which allows your doctor to look directly into your abdomen using a special camera instrument called a laparoscope. 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 abdominal wall and the organs which lie in it.

Do I need to do anything beforehand?

You will have a general anaesthetic, so you must not eat or drink for at least 6 hours before your laparoscopy. You may need to have some blood taken and have your heart monitored (Electrocardiogram [ECG]) before the test takes place . Your doctor will explain the procedure to you and ask you to sign a consent form before the investigation. If you take blood-thinning medicines or are a diabetic, be sure to tell your doctor or nurse beforehand.

What happens?

Once in the theatre, and when you are asleep after your general anaesthetic, the doctor will make a small cut below your belly button.  He/she will then insert a small telescope and inject gas into your abdomen.  The gas creates a space inside your abdomen so that your doctor can thoroughly examine your internal organs. It may be necessary to make 1 or 2 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 is removed and the doctor will close the wounds and apply dressings.

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 mild discomfort and you may take pain killers for this. Your doctors will advise you on what is best. You may have some occasional shoulder discomfort; this is quite normal as the gas can irritate your diaphragm (the big muscle that separates your lungs from your abdomen) by stretching the muscle fibres. The nerves to the diaphragm also go to the shoulder which is why you may feel it in the shoulder. Any shoulder pain usually settles within 1-2 days.

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Information Product No. PCA0013 pgs 4-5 | Published: 03/01/2013 | Last Updated: 20/02/2015 | Next Review Due: 03/01/2016