Laparoscopy – also known as minimally invasive surgery or ‘keyhole’ surgery – is a procedure where slender tube (laparoscope) is inserted into the patient’s abdomen, usually through a small cut (5-10mm) in the belly button. It is fitted with a light source and video camera to allow the surgeon to look at the abdominal and pelvic organs (such as uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries) through a video monitor. Photographs may also be taken. Surgical instruments such as scissors and graspers may be inserted through additional small cuts (5- 10mm) to allow surgery to be performed.
Laparoscopy is performed under general anaesthetic, many can be done as a day procedure in a hospital by a gynaecologist. If more extensive surgery is involved, you may need to stay 1-2 nights in the hospital.
Laparoscopy may be:
In many cases, laparoscopy replaces the need for open surgery (with larger cut in the abdomen), therefore:
Laparoscopy should be performed by specialist gynaecologists who have completed additional training either in minimally invasive gynaecology surgery, or in surgical gynaecological oncology in order to learn techniques and procedures to complete the most complex surgeries with lower complication rates and quicker recovery period. They also perform higher volume of more complex cases.
Although laparoscopy is a commonly performed and safe procedure, all surgeries have associated risks no matter how minor they are. The rate of all complications in a laparoscopy is less than 1 in 100, with the rate of major complications less than 1 in 200.
Potential complications in a laparoscopy include:
Link to RANZCOG Patient Information on Laparoscopy.
Link to AGES Patient Information Video on Laparoscopy.