Laparoscopic Surgery for Endometriosis
Laparoscopy is the most common procedure used to diagnose and remove mild to moderate endometriosis. Instead of using a large incision in the belly, the surgeon inserts a lighted viewing tool called a laparoscope through a small incision. If better access is needed, the surgeon makes one or two more small incisions for inserting other surgical tools.
If your doctor recommends a laparoscopy, it will be to:
- View the internal organs to look for signs of endometriosis and other possible problems. This is the only way that the doctor can be sure that you have the condition. But a "no endometriosis" diagnosis is never certain. Growths (implants) can be tiny or hidden from the surgeon's view.
- Remove any visible endometriosis implants and scar tissue that may be causing pain or infertility. If an endometriosis cyst is found growing on an ovary (endometrioma), it is likely to be removed.
What To Expect
Laparoscopy is usually done at an outpatient facility. Sometimes a surgery requires a hospital stay of 1 day. You probably can return to your normal activities in 1 week, but it may take longer.
Why It Is Done
Laparoscopy is used to examine the pelvic organs and to remove implants and scar tissue. This procedure is most often used for checking and treating:
- Severe endometriosis and scar tissue that is thought to be interfering with internal organs, such as the bowel or bladder.
- Endometriosis pain that has continued or that came back after hormone therapy.
- Severe endometriosis pain. (Some people and their doctors choose to skip medicine treatment.)
- An endometriosis cyst on an ovary (endometrioma).
- Endometriosis as a possible cause of infertility. The surgeon usually removes any visible implants and scar tissue. This may improve fertility.
How Well It Works
Surgery relieves endometriosis pain for most people. But it doesn't guarantee long-lasting results. Pain can return a few years after surgery. Hormone therapy may be used after surgery. It may help prevent pain and new or returning endometriosis.
If infertility is your primary concern, your doctor may use laparoscopy to look for and remove signs of endometriosis. Surgery may improve your chances of pregnancy. But in some severe cases, a fertility specialist may recommend skipping surgical removal and using in vitro fertilization.
There are various ways of surgically treating an endometrioma, such as draining it, cutting out part of it, or removing it completely (cystectomy). These treatments may help relieve pain. But cystectomy is most likely to relieve pain for a longer time, prevent an endometrioma from growing back, and prevent the need for another surgery.
Complications from the surgery are rare but include:
- Pelvic infection.
- Uncontrolled bleeding that results in the need for a larger abdominal incision (laparotomy) to stop the bleeding.
- Scar tissue (adhesion) formation after surgery.
- Damage to pelvic organs, such as the bowel or bladder.