A laparoscopy is a small operation used to look at organs inside your tummy (abdomen). It can be used to diagnose cancer, or to take samples for a biopsy.

What is a laparoscopy?

A laparoscopy is done using keyhole surgery. It is used to help diagnose cancer and for some treatments. It allows the surgeon to look at organs in the tummy or pelvis. They may also take small samples (biopsies) of tissue. Your doctor will talk to you about this.

Having a laparoscopy

You have a laparoscopy under a general anaesthetic. During the laparoscopy, the surgeon makes 3 or more cuts in the tummy. Each cut is around 1cm long. The surgeon then pumps some carbon dioxide gas into the tummy to lift the tummy wall. This helps them see the organs more clearly.

The surgeon then carefully inserts a thin tube called a laparoscope into the tummy. This has a tiny video camera on the end. The surgeon uses it to look at the organs in the tummy or pelvis. The surgeon may take a biopsy. To do this, they insert an instrument to take the sample.


Image: Having a laparoscopy


Recovery after a laparoscopy

Once the anaesthetic has worn off, you will be able to get up. You can usually go home later the same day, or on the next day.

You will have stitches in the tummy where the cuts were made. You may have discomfort in the neck or shoulder afterwards, but this will go away after 1 or 2 days. Walking can help relieve it.

Some people have uncomfortable wind in the tummy after surgery. Your nurse can talk to you about how to manage this. They may advise you to sip peppermint water. Moving around can also help.

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 24 January 2022
Next review: 24 July 2024
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum
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