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Diagnostic laparoscopy

What is diagnostic laparoscopy?

Diagnostic laparoscopy is the examination of the abdominal cavity with a "telescope" which is medically known as a laparoscope. The procedure usually takes less than half an hour.

Why perform diagnostic laparoscopy?

Your surgeon may advise you to undergo a diagnostic laparoscopy if you suffer from abdominal symptoms, usually pain, for which no cause can be found on other tests. It may also be advised to detect the severity / extent of a disease (staging).

What happens at the first appointment?

Your surgeon will initially take a history, examine you and perform appropriate tests to identify the cause of your abdominal symptoms. He will also ensure that you are fit to undergo the procedure and an anaesthetic. He may also suggest some treatment.

What happens at the subsequent appointments?

He will check that all necessary information and reports are available and have been evaluated. He will agree with you a date for the procedure.

Admission for surgery

You must not eat any food from 6 hours before the operation. You are allowed to drink clear fluids, including tea and coffee without milk up to 3 hours before the operation. A nurse will admit you on the day of surgery. The surgeon and the anaesthetist will see you prior to your operation. They will confirm that you are willing to undergo surgery, all preparations are complete and it is safe to proceed with your operation. They will confirm that an appropriate facility is available for you to recover after surgery.

What happens during diagnostic laparoscopy?

The procedure is performed under general anaesthetic and a small ‘telescope’ (laparoscope) is passed into your abdomen just above or below the navel. Your abdomen is filled with carbon dioxide gas, to help see everything properly. Further small cuts (1-2) may be made in your abdomen to insert instruments or probes to help in the examination or to take samples (biopsies).

What happens in hospital after surgery?

You will be sent to the Ward after the procedure. You will be looked after by a nurse and offered appropriate pain-killers.

What happens after diagnostic laparoscopy?

Usually the procedure is performed as a day case and you will be able to return home on the same day, when it is safe to do so. You will have a few small wound dressings which you can remove yourself after 1 week or a nurse / the surgeon can remove these at a subsequent visit. You will need to have a responsible and capable adult to take you home and to look after you for the first 24 hours. You should not operate machinery during this period.

Support available during early recuperation period after surgery

It is usual for you to experience some pain in the wounds - you may also experience minor discomfort in the shoulder. Most patients recover fully within 1-2 weeks. You will be given a number to ring for advice in case of difficulty.

Further follow up after surgery

You will be given an appointment to see the surgeon again to discuss the results and any report.

Will further surgery be needed?

This will depend on the findings at the time of the diagnostic laparoscopy.

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