Laparoscopy is the endoscopic study of the abdominal cavity and its organs. Laparoscopy does not replace a complete surgical exploration of the abdominal cavity, but can be a less invasive alternative. To perform laparoscopy, the abdominal cavity is first filled with air through a small needle. Ports are then placed through the abdominal wall to hold the scope and any biopsy or retrieval instruments. Often, two to three ports are necessary to perform the study. Laparoscopy provides an excellent way to clearly see the abdominal organs without surgery. Generally, laparoscopy is used to visualize and obtain biopsies from various abdominal organs, such as the liver and pancreas. Laparoscopy is an excellent way to determine if cancer has spread to the abdominal cavity.

The major reasons to perform a laparoscopy are:

  • To obtain biopsy samples from the liver, kidney, adrenal gland, spleen, pancreas or intestines.
  • To perform various procedures such as bladder stone removal, hysterectomy and adrenalectomy
  • To study the source of an identified abdominal growth
  • To evaluate the cause for persistent fluid in the abdomen (abdominal effusion)
  • To check for the spreading of disease in the abdominal cavity