Diagnostic Laparoscopy

If you and your partner are dealing with infertility, then you have probably had a number of diagnostic tests performed in order to find out the exact cause of the problem. Unfortunately, diagnostic laboratory tests are not always conclusive when it comes to determing the root cause of your infertility. As a result, your fertility specialist may suggest that you undergo diagnostic laparoscopy in order to find out more about what is causing your infertily. Diagnostic laparoscopy is a relatively simple procedure that can be used to diagnose and correct a number of fertility issues.

What is Diagnostic Laparoscopy?

Diagnostic laparoscopy is a surgical procedure that allows your fertility specialist to examine the organs inside of your abdomen and pelvis. It is often used when an infertility diagnosis cannot be reached through laboratory tests alone. Performed using small incisions and a miniature camera (known as a laparoscope) laparoscopy allows your fertility physician to take a close look at your:

  • uterus
  • fallopian tubes
  • ovaries
  • uterine lining

This enables your physician to make a fertility diagnosis and possibly even correct the problem during the laparoscopy procedure.

What is Diagnostic Laparoscopy Used For?

Diagnostic laparoscopy is used in order to detect complications inside of the reproductive system. In particular, it can be used to diagnose and correct:

It can also be used to detect and treat an ectopic pregnancy.

How is Diagnostic Laparoscopy Performed?

Diagnostic laparoscopy is typically performed in hospital or in a surgery centre that specializes in laparoscopic procedures. It is performed under general anesthesia, so that no pain is experienced during the surgery itself.

Your physician will make a small incision, a few centimetres in length, just below your navel. A needle will then be inserted into this incision, which is used to pump carbon dioxide into your abdomen. This carbon dioxide works to elevate the wall of your abdomen, so that your physician has enough room to work in. Next, a small tube, known as a trocar, will be passed through the incision in your abdomen. The laparoscope, a kind of tiny camera, is then inserted through the trocar. The laparoscope will transmit images of the inside of your pelvis and abdomen to a television monitor in the operating room. Your physician will use these images in order to diagnose your problem.

Operating with Diagnostic Laparoscopy

If your physician detects a problem during the laparoscopy procedure, he may be able to correct the problem right then and there. If this is the case, a few more incisions will be made on the left and right sides of your abdomen. Your physician will use these incisions to help accomodate scissors and other surgical tools needed to treat the problem. These incisions will then be sewn together once the operation is complete.

Preparing for Diagnostic Laparoscopy

The preparation for diagnostic laparoscopy is relatively straightforward. You will be asked to arrive at the hopsital or surgery centre the night before your operation. You must refrain from eating and drinking for at least eight hours prior to the surgery. Your physician may perform an ultrasound in order to get an idea of what is going on inside of your abdominal cavity. You may also undergo routine blood tests.

Recovering from Diagnostic Laparoscopy

Depending upon your fertility diagnosis, diagnostic laparoscopy can last anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours. After the surgery, you will be kept in hospital for at least two hours, so that your anesthetic can wear off. You will be monitored closely during this time. After two hours you will be allowed to go home, though you must have someone with you who is able to drive you. You may feel a little nausea or some pain in your shoulders or arms (as a reusult of the carbon dioxide), but you won't experience that much pain.

It is recommended that people undergoing diagnostic laparoscopy take the following two days off to rest and recuperate. After five days you may return to work and resume your normal, everyday activities. For the next week or so you may feel some pain or tenderness around the incisions in your abdomen. If the pain isn't too uncomfortable, you can resume sexual intercourse after a week. It is important to keep the incision areas as clean and dry as possible.

Complications Associated with Diagnostic Laparoscopy

As with any surgery, there are complications associated with diagnostic laparoscopy. However, if you are in good health the risks associated with the surgery are extremely rare. The most common complication of diagnostic laparoscopy is infection. If you notice any signs of infection, such as redness or heat, tell your physician as soon as possible. Other possible complications include:

  • excessive bleeding
  • injuries to the abdomen
  • injuries to blood vessels inside the pelvis

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