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Treatments & Procedures

Diagnostic Laparoscopy for Organ Examination Overview

What is diagnostic laparoscopy?

A thin tube with a light (laparoscope) is used to observe the organs inside your abdominal cavity, including:

Diagram of Body Organs
  • liver
  • pancreas
  • gallbladder
  • spleen
  • stomach
  • pelvic organs (such as the reproductive organs)

When is a laparoscopy performed?

If your doctor suspects something is wrong, a laparoscopy is a way to obtain a closer look, especially when biopsies, the removal of samples of tissue for testing, are necessary.

Laporoscopic Sites Diagram
For your first appointment

Please bring the following:

  • X-rays from another facility
  • Film reports
  • Lab work
  • Operative report
  • Pathology report
  • Cytology slides
  • Tissue specimens
Preparation for your laparoscopy

Your doctor might order procedures such as:

  • Ultrasound (a scan using high frequency sound waves)
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
During the procedure
  • General anesthesia relaxes your muscles and puts you into a deep sleep. You will feel no pain.
  • Carbon dioxide gas is used to inflate the abdominal cavity, which allows the doctor to more clearly see your organs.
  • Two to four small incisions (cuts) are made in your abdomen.
  • The incision near your navel is used to insert the laparoscope. Two additional incisions are used to place instruments needed to remove tissue samples.
  • After the samples are gathered, the scope and instruments are removed and the incisions are closed.
After the procedure
  • Most patients can go home after their anesthesia wears off. Some patients might be asked to stay overnight.
  • Some bloating or shoulder pain might occur due to the carbon dioxide.
  • You should avoid heavy lifting until your doctor says it is safe.
  • A follow-up appointment with your doctor will be scheduled.

Benefits of the procedure

The procedure will help your doctor make the most accurate diagnosis of your condition.


As with any procedure there are risks, although minimal:

  • Complications of general anesthesia
  • Injury to the abdominal organs and blood vessels
  • Inflammation of the abdominal wall
  • A blood clot that could enter the bloodstream causing clotting in the legs, pelvis, or lungs
  • A clot that could travel to the heart or brain where it could cause a heart attack or stroke (rare)
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
Call the doctor if you experience the following symptoms:
  • Increased abdominal pain
  • Soreness, redness, warmth, or drainage around your wound
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 1/25/2012...#6903