Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to identify causes of female infertility and also treat some of them. The doctor examinesthe organs of the pelvic region including uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries to identify blockage or irregularities. Laparoscopy detects endometriosis, scarring, fallopian tube damage, adhesions, ovarian cysts, fibroids, congenital abnormalities and polycystic ovaries. When the contributing factors are diagnosed, it is called diagnostic laparoscopy. This is performed after all the basic infertility tests are carried out. However when a surgery is performed using laser to treat these problems, it is called surgical laparoscopy. Very often, these problems are treated when they are diagnosed. Sometimes, parts of tissues are taken out for examination called biopsy.
During laparoscopy, an incision is made just below the navel. Carbon dioxide is then blown into the abdominal region to separate the internal organs. A small telescope, called the laparoscope, is inserted through the incision to examine the abdominal and pelvic organs. This gives a clear view of the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes. The entire pelvis is scanned and all organs are checked. After the laparoscopy, the incisions are stitched or covered with bandages for faster healing. The stitches are removed after a few days. You may also be advised to take rest till the stitches heal completely.
Sometimes, laparoscopy is suggested the week before the next period is due. Your doctor will combine the laparoscopy with a dilatation and curettage (D & C) to understand your ovulation process. Alternatively, some doctors perform the diagnostic laparoscopy during the periovulatory period when the eggs are ripe. This allows them to visualize follicular development or treat the infertility by doing an intratubal insemination if needed. Intratubal insemination can be done only if a previously done HSG indicated problem-free tubes.
Laparoscopy is usually performed under general anesthesia on an empty stomach and lasts for about an hour. If the hospital records the process, you can request for a copy if you want a second opinion.
Contact your doctor immediately in case of diagnostic laparoscopy complications such as abnormal drainage or swelling with pain. These can indicate infection. In some cases, laparoscopy may cause damage to other pelvic organs such as bladder, ureter, bowel and blood vessels. Some side effects of laparoscopy that wear off in a few days include: