Laparoscopy is a procedure that enables your surgeon to look inside the abdominal cavity and pelvis to diagnose and treat a variety of abnormal conditions. A laparoscope is a long, narrow telescope with a light source and video camera at the end. The scope is passed through a tiny incision into the abdomen where images from the camera are projected onto a large monitor for the surgeon to view the abdominal cavity.
Laparoscopes have channels inside the scope enabling the surgeon to pass gas in and out to expand the viewing area or to insert tiny surgical instruments for treatment purposes. The surgical instruments used in operative laparoscopy are very small but appear much larger when viewed through a laparoscope.
Laparoscopy may be diagnostic, operative, or both:
A laparoscopy is diagnostic when the surgeon is viewing the abdominal cavity and pelvis to make a diagnosis, without any treatment administered at that time. This is particularly useful when other tests such as X-rays, scans, or blood work are inconclusive. The laparoscope is usually smaller as no channel is needed for surgical instruments.
A laparoscopy is considered operative when the surgeon is treating a problem that is found during diagnostic laparoscopy with surgical instruments through the laparoscope.
If your surgeon sees an opportunity to treat a problem during a diagnostic laparoscopy, an operative laparoscopy will usually be performed at that time depending on the patient’s condition and the surgeon’s preference.