Diagnostic Laproscopy : Its Overview | Indications | Process | Complications



Diagnostic laparoscopy, also known as exploratory laparoscopy is a surgical procedure used to examine the organs inside the abdomen.


It provides a view of abdominal organs and the insides of the abdominal cavity. To achieve this, a laparoscope which has a light and camera at the end is inserted into the abdominal cavity, and the image recording by the camera is analysed on a monitor.


This is used to find the cause of symptoms such as infertility problem, pelvic pain and other gynecological conditions which cannot be diagnosed in other clinical examination and imaging.

For, e.g. endometriosis ( a condition in which tissues of endometrium, i.e. the tissues which line the inner side of the uterus, grow outside the uterus ) can be diagnosed with laparoscopy.


Laparoscopy is a low risk and minimally invasive surgery making only small incisions. It is the most commonly used method for many surgeries like appendectomy, cholecystectomy, adrenalectomy, splenectomy etc.


It can be used to diagnose and treat as well the cause of pelvic or abdominal pain. According to the aim of performing the procedure, it is divided into two types.


  • Diagnostic Laparoscopy: When laparoscopy is done only to view the insides or to take a biopsy, it is called diagnostic laparoscopy. It does not aim to treat the symptoms, it just diagnoses the cause of problem or symptoms.


  • Operative Laparoscopy: When laparoscopy is performed to treat a specific problem or to assist a particular surgery, it is called operative laparoscopy or laparoscopic surgery. It aims to treat the problem or relieve the symptoms.

    The benefit of operative laparoscopy is that it is less invasive as compared to conventional open Medical procedure.


Diagnostic laparoscopy also allow tissue biopsy, culture acquisition, laparoscopic ultrasonography (LUS)


This procedure is performed with the help of an instrument called laparoscope. A laparoscope is a long thin tube having a high-resolution camera and high-intensity light at the front.

To insert a laparoscope, a small cut is made in abdominal wall through the belly button, and the telescope is inserted via this cut. As the instrument moves inside, the camera sends the images of insides to the video monitor.


Laparoscopy is used to diagnose the source of pelvic or abdominal pain. During this procedure, biopsy can also be done to obtain the tissue samples.




Laparoscopy can be used for diagnosis as well as operative purposes. Diagnostic laparoscopy is used to diagnose the cause of abdominal or pelvic pain.


This procedure is primarily used when other imaging techniques like X-ray, CT Scan, Ultrasound, MRI fail to diagnose the exact cause or are unable to provide enough information.


Laparoscopy provides a clear view of abdominal organs.it can be used for analysis of appendix, gallbladder, liver, pancreas, small intestine, large intestine (colon), spleen, stomach and reproductive organs.


Diagnostic laparoscopy can be used to detect:


  • Liver problems or diseases: For patients with abnormal liver function but the undetectable cause in a radiological examination, laparoscopy is used to obtain a biopsy.

    This procedure is mainly used in patients with liver cirrhosis, diffuse liver disease, liver masses etc.


  • Effects Of Certain Treatments: as mentioned before laparoscopy provides the view of the inside of the abdominal organs. Laparoscopy can be used to examine if a particular treatment is curing the problem or worsening it.


  • Fluid In Abdominal Cavity: Due to some diseases like liver disease, cancer, congestive heart failure and kidney failure, serous fluid accumulate in the abdominal cavity. Laparoscopy can diagnose the exact cause of the accumulation of fluid.


  • Growth Of Particular Cancer: Laparoscopy can diagnose the stage of intra abdominal cancer. Intra abdominal malignancy can be evaluated by staging laparoscopy.


  • Intra Abdominal Injuries: This process is used for evaluating patient with blunt force trauma or penetrating injury. Laparoscopy can give an accurate diagnosis of intra abdominal injuries and depend on the extent of damage, therapeutic procedures can be performed.


  • Endometriosis: Diagnostic laparoscopy provide a direct view of the pelvic structures and hence can identify endometriosis.


  • Chronic Pelvic Pain: Chronic pelvic pain could be due to problems like endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, adhesions, cysts etc. these all problems can be diagnosed by laparoscopy.


  • Infertility: Infertility is one of the major indication for diagnostic laparoscopy. To diagnose the cause of infertility, pelvic laparoscopy is performed. It can be used to examine the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries etc.






Before the procedure of laparoscopy, doctor provides some instruction to get prepared for the process.


Doctor ask the detail of medications that patient takes and go through the medical history. Doctor instruct the patient when to stop or start taking medicines like, blood thinners, anti-inflammatory drugs, medications that affect blood clottings and herbal or dietary supplements.


A pregnancy test should always be performed before laparoscopy so that the doctors take precautions and reduce the risk of harm to the growing baby.


Before laparoscopy, various test and scans are performed. These include blood test, Urine test, Electrocardiogram (ECG), X-ray, Ultrasound, CT Scan and MRI. These tests and imaging are conducted to better understand the available abnormality.  These tests improve the effectiveness of the laparoscopy as it provides a guide of the inside of the abdomen.


The patient is instructed not to eat or drink anything for at least 8 hours before laparoscopy.




Diagnostic laparoscopy is an outpatient procedure, and patient can leave the hospital same day after surgery. It is performed in following steps:


This process is performed under general anesthesia. First of all, a general anesthesia is given to the patient.


General anesthesia causes complete unconsciousness, i.e. the patient will remain asleep during the procedure and will not feel any pain during the process. An anesthesiologist, intravenously gives anesthesia as well as fluid to keep the patient hydrated.


In some cases local anesthesia is used, it numbs the area of treatment and the patient is awake during the process but will not feel any pain.


During laparoscopy, the doctor makes a small incision below the belly button and inserts a cannula in it. A cannula is used to inflate the abdomen with carbon dioxide gas (CO2). This allows the doctor to see the abdominal organs clearly.  


After inflating the abdomen, surgeon inserts the laparoscope through the incision. The camera of laparoscope record the images of inside of the abdominal cavity and transfer it to the video monitor.


More than one incisions are made to insert other instruments as in case of biopsy, surgical instruments are inserted to extract tissue sample. The number and size of cuts vary according to the expected disease to exclude or confirm it. Generally, number of incisions range between 1 to 4.


After The Procedure


After the procedure, instruments are removed and, incisions are closed with stitches and covered with bandages.


Patient is observed for several hours, vital signs such as heart rate and breathing are monitored until the patient is awake.


Throbbing and pain in incisions will be there, so painkillers are given to the patient to relieve the pain.


When the patient is awake, a cup of water or tea is offered, and light food is given before release. Release time of patient depends upon some factors like physical health, type of anesthesia used etc.


In cases where biopsy is performed, tissue sample is analysed by a pathologist and the test report can be obtained within a few days.




Most common risks associated with laparoscopy are:


  • Infection: There is chance of infection after laparoscopy. Patient should contact the surgeon if, signs of infections are observable. Signs of infection are fever, redness/ swelling/ bleeding of incision, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain, breathing problem, problems in urinating and persistent cough.


  • Damage to abdominal organs: there is a risk of puncture or injury to an organ. If this happens blood and other fluids may leak in your body. In such case, additional surgery is required to repair the damage.


  • Internal bleeding: Blood clot may be formed inside body, which can travel to legs, pelvis or lungs.


  • Pain in incisions: for few days after laparoscopy, patient will feel pain and throbbing in the incisions. Usually, this pain fades away with time. Doctors prescribe some pain medications to deal with it.   


  • Shoulder Pain: This is commonly seen after the procedure. This happens due to the carbon dioxide used to inflate the abdomen. This cause irritation to diaphragm which affects the shoulder nerves.