Infertility Tests: Laparoscopy

Laparoscopy is a diagnostic tool used to detect possible conditions that could cause unexplained female infertility. Using laparoscopy, the specialist is able to visually examine the internal reproductive system. This procedure is used in the diagnosis of fallopian tube obstruction, endometriosis, adhesions in the uterus, ovarian cysts, fibroid tumors and structural abnormalities of the organs. It can also be useful for women who suffer unexplained abdominal discomfort and pain or those with unusual vaginal bleeding.

Laparoscopy is an invasive procedure; however, it is much less invasive than traditional exploratory surgery. During laparoscopy, a small fiber-optic camera (laparoscope) is inserted into the pelvic and abdominal region of the body. The images are relayed to a monitor and the surgeon is able to guide the camera to complete the examination.

Most fertility specialists use laparoscopy as the last diagnostic tool in the assessment of infertility. Cost is usually a factor when deciding whether to undergo the procedure, as the price has risen substantially within the past several years.

Diagnostic Laparoscopy Procedure

Laparoscopy is usually performed under general anesthesia by a skilled reproductive surgeon in a hospital or specialized clinic. Most procedures take 30 minutes to two hours. Time will depend upon diagnostic findings and possible surgical correction.

The fiber-optic camera on the laparoscope is very small. It is inserted into the body, through an incision made in the navel. Another incision may be made near the upper pubic region. Through this incision, the doctor can insert a small surgical instrument. In some cases, the surgeon may need to move the organs for a better view.

A small needle is used to inject carbon dioxide gas into the body. The gas slightly lifts the abdominal wall, making it easier to examine the organs.

Diagnostic Laparoscopic Dye Examination

If the surgeon detects a possible obstruction of the fallopian tubes during the procedure, he or she may choose to perform a dye test to confirm the diagnosis. A blue dye is put inside the cervix and the surgeon observes how the dye passes through the fallopian tubes.

Diagnostic Laparoscopy and Surgical Treatment

Some conditions found during the laparoscopy may be corrected at that time. Surgical removal of adhesions and tubal obstructions are examples of conditions that are often treated during the initial laparoscopy. In many instances, this may prevent the need for further surgical treatment.

Laparoscopic surgery may require two or three additional small incisions. The surgeon will use specially designed micro implements that insert easily into the incisions. The decision to surgically treat a detected condition at the same time should be discussed with your doctor prior to laparoscopy.

Post Procedure

The surgeon may use sutures or adhesive strips to close the incisions. Most patients will experience some shoulder pain. Shoulder pain is caused by a small amount of residual carbon dioxide gas that is trapped behind the diaphragm. This pain may persist for one to two days.

Patients generally have abdominal pain and discomfort that may persist for several days. Women may also experience light vaginal bleeding after the laparoscopy. Women who are close to their menstruation cycle may experience heavier bleeding.

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