Diagnostic laparoscopy may be recommended to look at the outside of the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and internal pelvic area. Diagnostic hysteroscopy is used to look inside the uterine cavity. If an abnormal condition is detected during the diagnostic procedure, operative laparoscopy or operative hysteroscopy can often be performed to correct it at the same time, avoiding the need for a second surgery. Both diagnostic and operative procedures should be performed by physicians with surgical expertise in these areas. The following information will help patients know what to expect before undergoing any of these procedures.
Laparoscopy can help physicians diagnose many gynecological problems including endometriosis, uterine fibroids and other structural abnormalities, ovarian cysts, adhesions (scar tissue), and ectopic pregnancy. If you have pain, history of past pelvic infection, or symptoms suggestive of pelvic disease, your physician may recommend this procedure as part of your evaluation. Laparoscopy is sometimes recommended after completing an initial infertility evaluation on both partners. It is usually performed soon after menstruation ends. Laparoscopy is usually performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia. After the patient is under anesthesia, a needle is inserted through the navel and the abdomen is filled with carbon dioxide gas. The gas pushes the abdominal wall away from the internal organs so that the laparoscope can be placed safely into the abdominal cavity and decrease the risk of injury to surrounding organs such as the bowel, bladder and blood vessels. The laparoscope is then inserted through an incision in the navel. Occasionally, alternate sites may be used for the insertion of the laparoscope based upon physician experience or the patient's prior surgical or medical history. While looking through the laparoscope, the physician can see the reproductive organs including the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.