Laparoscopy is the most common form of minimally invasive or ‘keyhole’ surgery. It involves putting a camera through a port into the abdominal cavity which has been filled with carbon dioxide gas to allow the surgeon to examine the structures within the abdomen and pelvis without the need for a large incision. It has become the standard of care for most major gynaecological procedures and requires a general anaesthetic.

Gynaecological oncologists use laparoscopy for both investigation and treatment. In some cases where the diagnosis is unclear or if there are concerns about the patient’s fitness to undergo a major open abdominal operation, the surgeon may choose to have a look inside the abdomen to visually assess the situation before proceeding.

Operations which can be done laparoscopically include:

  • Division of adhesions
  • Removal of tubes (salpingectomy)
  • Removal of ovaries (oophorectomy) or ovarian cysts (ovarian cystectomy)
  • Removal of uterus and cervix (total hysterectomy)
  • Staging surgery for some gynaecological cancers, including lymph node removal and omentectomy

The major advantages to the patient and surgeon from laparoscopic, compared with open surgery include:

  • Reduced post-operative pain
  • Quicker discharge from hospital
  • Less blood loss and adhesions
  • Fewer wound complications and infections
  • Lower risk of clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) or lungs (pulmonary embolism)
  • Improved vision for the surgeon

More information about laparoscopy.