Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure that allows the surgeon to examine the inside of the abdomen and pelvis. Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive (keyhole) surgical procedure performed through small 0.5-1cm incisions (cuts). This is made possible with an instrument called a laparoscope.


A laparoscope is a narrow tube that contains a light source and a camera. The camera relays images of the inside the abdomen or pelvis to a television monitor. The surgeon makes a minor incision in the skin, passes the laparoscope through the incision and studies the organs and tissues inside the abdomen or pelvis.

Laparoscopic view of normal pelvic organs

Laparoscopies are very common. An estimated 250,000 women have laparoscopic surgery for gynaecological conditions each year in the UK. The advantages of this technique over traditional open surgery is that patients who have a laparoscopy have:

  • a faster recovery time,
  • less pain after the operation,
  • minimal scarring.

Diagnostic laparoscopy

Laparoscopy can be used to help diagnose a wide range of conditions that can develop inside the abdomen or pelvis, such as endometriosis or pelvic adhesions.

Therapeutic laparoscopy

Laparoscopy can be used to carry out surgical procedures. Small surgical instruments and devices, such as scissors and graspers, can be passed through incisions in the skin to perform operations such as removing a damaged or diseased organ, eg laparoscopic hysterectomy or laparoscopic myomectomy.

Laparoscopy is generally regarded as a very safe procedure. Serious complications as a result of laparoscopic surgery are rare, occuring only in an estimated 1 in 1,000 cases.

Further information

For more information about recovering from the operation and what to expect on going home, read our information leaflet: Laparoscopy

External links

A laparoscope Laparoscopic view of normal pelvic organs