Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive form of surgery using several instruments and a camera inserted into the abdominal cavity via small (around an inch) incisions. The abdominal cavity is "insufflated" or inflated with gas to allow for a better view, and the camera is used to visualize and guide the operation. Laparoscopic surgery is commonly used for removal of small organs like the gallbladder or appendix, or for gynecologic surgeries to remove things like ovarian cysts. Sometimes, when looking for sources of pain or other symptoms, your surgeon
will perform what is called a "diagnostic laparoscopy" which allows the surgeon to directly visualize the organs with a camera in order to establish a diagnosis, but without the aim of necessarily performing an operation.
The advantage of laparoscopy is that is it is minimally invasive - that is to say, it produces only a few small wounds which typically heal very quickly. The risks are similar to those with any other surgery - infection, bleeding, or damage to tissues around the area of operation - but are minimized by the minimally invasive nature of the operation. You will need to get blood tests before your laparoscopy, to make sure your body has a good ability to clot blood in case of a bleed as well as to screen for anemia. You will also need to fast for at least 8 hours before your surgery - this is because when you are put to sleep with anesthesia, the anesthesiologist
must be sure the contents of your stomach are empty to minimize the risk of vomiting
during "intubation" (the placement of the breathing tube during surgery).
The specific risks and benefits of your surgery are things you should discuss with your surgeon, as they depend both on your underlying medical conditions and the risks specific to the type of surgery you will have.