Laparoscopy and laparotomy

woman sleeping in hospital bed

Both these tests are used to look at organs in your abdomen (tummy area). For example, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, spleen, stomach or reproductive organs. This lets your doctor look for any abnormal changes in your organs.

Laparoscopy

Laparoscopy is a type of keyhole surgery, where a thin, flexible tube with a camera and a light goes in through a small cut (incision) in your tummy.  

Your doctor may make another cut in the tummy if a small sample of tissue (biopsy) needs to be taken. This sample can be tested for cancer cells. You will have some stitches in your tummy after the test.

Before the test

You won’t be able to eat or drink for a few hours before the test.

Will I have pain relief / anaesthetic?

You will have a general anaesthetic.

Does it hurt?

No. You will be asleep because of the general anaesthetic.

How long does it take?

The test takes about 30 minutes

After the test

After a laparoscopy you will have 2 or 3 stitches at the wound site. Usually they dissolve as your wound heals.

Once the effects of the anaesthetic wears off, you will be able to get up and usually can go home the same day.  

You may have uncomfortable wind (stomach cramps) and/or shoulder pains for 3 or 4 days. This is caused by carbon dioxide gas, which is passed into your abdomen during the test to let your doctor see more clearly. Walking about or taking sips of peppermint water often eases the pain.

Laparotomy

A laparotomy is like a laparoscopy, but your doctor makes a bigger cut in your tummy and doesn’t use a camera. Again, this lets your doctor check for abnormal changes. A laparotomy can sometimes lead to more surgery, depending on what your doctor finds.

Before the test

You won’t be able to eat or drink for a few hours before the test.

Will I have pain relief / anaesthetic?

You will have a general anaesthetic.

Does it hurt?

You won’t feel anything during the test because you will have a general anaesthetic.

How long does it take?

The test takes a few minutes, but it will take a few hours to recover from the anaesthetic. You may need to stay overnight in hospital. You won’t be able to drive for 24 hours after a general anaesthetic, so make sure you have a lift home from the hospital.

For more information

Icon: Phone

Phone

1800 200 700

Icon: Email

Email