A laparoscopy is a procedure used at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) to check inside your abdomen for any problems.

It can be done without having to make a big incision (cut) in your body. This means that you will have less pain, less scarring and a faster recovery than the more traditional types of investigation.

How it works

If you are having unexplained symptoms (such as pain or swelling) involving your abdomen or pelvic area, you doctor may suggest that you have a laparoscopy to find out what the cause is.

Laparoscopies can identify:

  • cysts 
  • adhesions
  • fibroids 
  • infection 


The day before you may have to have a blood test and maybe an x-ray or scan. These are to check that you are healthy enough to have the procedure.

The evening before the procedure you may have to take a laxative. This will make you poo so that your system is empty before you have your operation, meaning that it is less likely for you to get an infection. Your doctor will then tell you that you should not eat from a certain time that evening.

On the day, you will have to discuss your health with the doctor and anaesthetist before the operation and discuss what will happen.

All girls aged 12 years or older are tested to make sure they are not pregnant on the day of their procedure. If they are found to be pregnant the surgeon will decide if the procedure should be delayed or cancelled.

You will be asked to wear a hospital gown and then you will be taken to the operating suite. You may have an intravenous line inserted (a drip) and you will have heart and oxygen monitoring equipment attached to you, so that the staff will be able to check that everything is alright during the operation.

You will be given a general anaesthetic and will not be aware of the procedure happening. The anaesthetist will stay with you throughout the procedure to make sure that you have the right amount of anaesthetic and that your heart rate, blood pressure etc are all OK.


Instead of making a big incision, the doctors will usually make up to three holes, which will be up to one centimetre long each. Some gas is injected through one of the holes to slightly 'blow out' the abdominal wall. Through this hole they will insert a laparoscope. The laparoscope has a video camera which will show the doctor inside your body so that he can see what is causing the problem.

When the doctor has had a good look the holes will be sewn up.

The procedure can take between 30 and 90 minutes.

Does it hurt?

It may hurt a little. You will be asleep during the procedure and won’t feel it. Afterwards it may hurt a bit until it has healed. If you feel uncomfortable talk to the clinical staff who will give you some medicine for the pain.

Going home

This will depend on the reasons why you needed the laparoscopy. Some people may be able to go home three hours later and some may have to stay in for a few days.

It is important that for six weeks after the laparoscopy you should not try to lift anything heavy or do tummy exercises such as sit ups.

Compiled by:
Great Ormond Street Hospital
Last review date:
December 2013