Laparoscopy is a surgical technique in which a lighted viewing instrument (laparoscope) is inserted into the lower abdomen through a small incision, usually made below the navel. The abdomen is inflated with air injected through a needle, which pushes the wall of the abdomen away from the organs so the doctor can see them more clearly.
Laparoscopy may be used for both diagnosis and treatment. Incisions may be made so that other instruments, such as cutting devices or lasers, can be inserted to treat certain problems. With laparoscopy, the doctor can identify diseased organs, take tissue samples for biopsy, and remove abnormal growths.
Laparoscopy may allow a person to avoid more invasive open surgery that uses larger incisions. Compared to open surgery, it leaves smaller scars, is often less risky, and usually requires a shorter recovery period.
Laparoscopy is often used to diagnose and treat problems in the female reproductive organs, such as endometriosis, infertility, or tubal pregnancy. Tubal ligation (female sterilization) can also be done with laparoscopic surgery.
Laparoscopy may be used for a variety of procedures in both men and women, such as to remove the gallbladder.