When laparoscopy is used 

Laparoscopy is used to diagnose or treat numerous conditions.

During the procedure, small surgical instruments and devices are inserted through small incisions. This helps your surgeon perform whatever surgical procedure needs to be carried out.

Diagnosing conditions

It's often possible to diagnose a condition using non-invasive methods, such as an ultrasound scancomputerised tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Sometimes, however, the only way to confirm a diagnosis is to directly study the affected part of the body using a laparoscope.

Laparoscopies are now widely used to diagnose many different conditions and investigate certain symptoms. For example, they may be used for:

  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – a bacterial infection of the female upper genital tract, including the womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries
  • endometriosis – where small pieces of the womb lining (the endometrium) are found outside the womb
  • ectopic pregnancy – a pregnancy that develops outside the womb
  • ovarian cyst – a fluid-filled sac that develops on a woman’s ovary
  • fibroids – non-cancerous tumours that grow in or around the womb (uterus)
  • female infertility
  • undescended testicles – a common childhood condition where a boy is born without one or both testicles in their scrotum
  • appendicitis – a painful swelling of the appendix (a small pouch connected to the large intestine)
  • unexplained pelvic or abdominal pain

Laparoscopy can also be used to diagnose certain types of cancers. The laparoscope is used to obtain a sample of suspected cancerous tissue, so it can be sent to a laboratory for testing. This is known as a biopsy.

Cancers that can be diagnosed using laparoscopy include:

Treating conditions

Laparoscopic surgery can be used to treat a number of different conditions, including:

  • removing an inflamed appendix – in cases of appendicitis where there's a high risk of the appendix bursting
  • removing the gallbladder – often used to treat gallstones
  • removing a section of the intestine – often used to treat digestive conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis, that don't respond to medication
  • repairing hernias – such as those found in the groin
  • repairing burst or bleeding stomach ulcers
  • performing weight loss surgery
  • removing some or all of an organ affected by cancer – such as the ovaries, prostate, liver, colon, kidney or bladder
  • treating ectopic pregnancy – it's usually necessary to remove the embryo to prevent damage to the fallopian tubes
  • removing fibroids
  • removing the womb (hysterectomy) – sometimes used to treat pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis, heavy periods or painful periods

Page last reviewed: 24/09/2015

Next review due: 24/09/2017