Laparoscopy comes from the Greek words that mean "to look in the abdomen". A long thin telescope is inserted in to the abdomen through a small cut (incision). The abdomen is inflated with gas (carbon dioxide). This allows your surgeon to look at your abdomen and reproductive organs to make a diagnosis. Often treatment can be performed at the same time in this minimally invasive fashion.
There are many reasons why laparoscopy might be used. It can be used to diagnose why a patient is experiencing infertility, or pelvic pain. It can be used to treat ectopic pregnancy, or perform sterilization.
Most laparoscopy is done on an outpatient basis, with a faster recovery than the older (more traditional) form of surgery called laparotomy in which the abdomen had to be cut open to operate on the reproductive organs.
After laparoscopy it is safe to resume normal activity when you feel up to it - usually in about one week. For the first several days you will experience some pain at the incision sites, nausea, a gassy / bloating sensation, or pain in your shoulder. Abdominal cramps and a discharge (like your period) might also occur. Resting with a heating pad, and using medications such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) will help ease the pain and discomfort.
All surgery has risks of bleeding, infection or complications with anesthesia. Risks specific to laparoscopy include injury to to the blood vessels in the lower abdomen, damage to the bowels or urinary tract or hernia. Complications from surgery can require additional surgery, including laparotomy. Talk with your doctor about the surgery that is right for you.