by EBSCO Medical Review Board
(Surgery with Keyhole Incisions)

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Laparoscopy is surgery that is done through small incisions in the belly. Small tools and a scope with a tiny camera are passed through the incisions. This allows the doctor to see inside.

Laparoscopy shortens recovery time and leaves smaller scars than open surgery.

Laparoscopic Instruments Being Placed in the Abdomen
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Reasons for Procedure

Laparoscopy can be used to:

  • Remove or repair structures in the belly or pelvis
  • Diagnose health problems
  • Take biopsies

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Damage to nearby structures
  • The need to switch to an open surgery

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery
  • Fasting before surgery, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Whether you need to clean out your bowels before surgery
  • Whether you need a ride to and from surgery
  • Tests that will need to be done before surgery, such as imaging


General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep.

Description of the Procedure

Small incisions will be made in the belly. Gas is placed into the belly to make it expand. This makes it easier to see the structures inside. Tools are passed through the small incisions. The procedure will be done. The tools will be removed. The incisions will be closed with stitches, tape, or staples. Bandages will be put on the incisions.

How Long Will It Take?

How long it takes depends on the procedure

Will It Hurt?

Pain and swelling are common in the first few days. Medicine and home care help

Post-procedure Care

At the Hospital

Right after the procedure, the staff may give you pain medicine.

During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection, such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping your incisions covered

There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection, such as:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and staff to do the same
  • Reminding staff to wear gloves or masks
  • Not letting others touch your incisions
At Home

It will take about 2 weeks to recover. Physical activity will be limited during this time.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever or chills
  • Redness, swelling, excess bleeding, or discharge from the incision
  • Pain that you cannot control with medicine
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Problems passing urine or stool

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


American College of Surgeons 

Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons 


Health Canada 

Women's College Hospital—Women's Health Matters 


Brown R, Byrne D, et al. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guideline NG73. Endometriosis: diagnosis and management. National Guideline Alliance (UK). NICE 2017 Sep.

Diagnostic laparoscopy patient information from SAGES. Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons website. Available at: Accessed December 15, 2020.

Endometriosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed December 15, 2020.

Laparoscopy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: Accessed December 15, 2020.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
  • Review Date: 12/2020
  • Update Date: 04/21/2021