Laparoscopy is a technique that enables surgery to occur with only small incisions (minimally invasively). A laparoscope is a long, narrow telescope with a light source and video camera at the end. The scope is passed through a small incision into the abdomen where images from the camera are projected onto a large monitor for the surgeon to view the abdominal cavity. Carbon dioxide (CO2) Gas is used to inflate the space inside to allow surgery to occur. The surgical instruments used in operative laparoscopy are very small but appear much larger when viewed through a laparoscope.
A diagnostic laparoscopy occurs when the procedure is performed to get more information about a condition. This may occur in the context of cancer staging or during the investigation of undifferentiated abdominal pain. Usually no treatment occurs during this step. This is particularly useful when other tests such as X-rays, scans or blood work do not give enough information to make a decision about management.
An operative laparoscopy occurs when the operation or treatment is performed with keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery instead of open surgery. Examples include gallbladder surgery, hernia surgery, hiatus hernia and fundoplication surgery, obesity surgery, pancreas and liver surgery.