The Purpose Of Laparoscopy In Fertility Treatments


Laparoscopy is a type of minimally invasive surgery that is used with great success in the diagnosis and treatment of many medical conditions that cause infertility. By providing an alternative to traditional surgery which is often more risky, laparoscopy has improved the lives of countless couples facing infertility.

In this article, we find out exactly what minimally invasive surgery is, what laparoscopy entails, what the purpose of laparoscopy is, when it is used and where it is available.

What Is Minimally Invasive Surgery?

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, surgery can be called “minimally invasive” if it involves only small incisions or no cuts.

During minimally invasive surgery, highly skilled surgeons can look at your body’s organs with the help of small telescopes and cameras. At the same time, surgical repairs can be made with very small instruments.

Some common types of minimally invasive include laparoscopy, robotic laparoscopy, hysteroscopy.

One of the main benefits of minimal invasive surgery is that scars on the outside of the body are much smaller than in traditional open surgery. There may also be no scarring.
In the case of a laparoscopy, for example, there is one incision in the belly button and one to three further incisions in the lower belly. These incisions are usually half a centimetre or 1.5 centimetres long – much smaller than incisions in traditional open surgery.

Hysteroscopy, for example, requires no incisions to be made. Instead, it uses a lighted telescope which is called a “hysteroscope”. This is inserted through the vagina and cervix, which is the “neck” of the womb or uterus, enabling a surgeon to see inside of the womb. In this case, there are no scars at all.

Minimally invasive surgery will also cause less scarring on the inside of the body. In general, all surgery can cause adhesions or scar tissue inside your lower belly (abdomen), which can cause pain, bowel blockage or infertility.

The smaller incisions made in minimally invasive surgery are also less painful than those made during open surgery. This means both less pain medication and a quicker recovery.

A faster recovery is another important benefit of minimally invasive surgery is. After open surgery, a patient is required to stay in hospital for two to four days. Usually, minimally invasive surgery will not even require an overnight stay in hospital. In addition, this shorter recovery time reduces the risk of problems such as infection or blood clots in the legs.

Of course, minimally invasive surgery is not the answer for everyone, nor can all surgeries be done with minimally invasive techniques.

It is also not standard in all medical facilities, as it requires special training and equipment. Not all doctors are qualified to do these types of procedures – surgeons need special training before they can perform minimally invasive surgery. In addition, not all medical facilities have the special equipment necessary to do these kinds of surgeries.

What Does Laparoscopy Entail?

As a type of minimal invasive surgery, laparoscopy entails placing a lighted telescope with a camera, which is called a laparoscope, into your belly through a very small incision in the belly button. It allows the surgeon to see inside your belly and pelvis.

Robotic laparoscopy uses laparoscopic instruments controlled by a surgeon seated at a console.

For this surgery at Medfem Fertility Clinic, you will require a general anaesthetic, so you will be asleep, but in most cases, you will go home the same day.

After the incision is made usually next to the navel, the laparoscope is inserted into the abdominal cavity. Either carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide gas is then passed into the cavity to separate the abdominal wall from the underlying organs. This makes examination of the internal organs easier.

Anywhere between one and three more incisions are made to allow access to other surgical instruments, for example, a laser. Once a diagnosis is made or the problem is removed (or both), the instruments are taken out, the gas allowed to escape and the incisions sewn shut. The stitches may need to be removed at a later stage or else they will dissolve by themselves.

Most women experience bloating, abdominal discomfort and/or back and shoulder tip pain for 24-48 hours after surgery. This is normal and is related to the gas used during the surgery. This pain should not be severe and should gradually improve over 24-48 hours. Most patients are able to resume normal activities within a few days to one week.

What Is The Purpose Of Laparoscopy?

Laparoscopy as a type of minimally invasive surgery offers many benefits compared to traditional procedures. These include that patients can usually return to work sooner, experience less pain and require fewer pain medications after surgery, have less scar tissue formation, and have smaller skin incisions.

It is also a preferred technique because it is often less risky than open surgery and many medical conditions can be diagnosed and treated at the same time during a single procedure.

When Is Laparoscopy Used?

Some of the many infertility problems that may be diagnosed or treated by laparoscopy are detailed below.

When diagnosing and treating female infertility, laparoscopy allows fertility specialists to check for and even treat problems such as scar tissue, endometriosis and fibroid tumours, as well as ovarian masses or cysts. It also enables fertility specialists to check for any abnormalities in respect of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

Laparoscopy is also used to investigate and treat adhesions, which is the presence of scar tissue within the pelvic cavity. Other problems of the female reproductive system that can be addressed with laparoscopy includes, for example, pelvic organ prolapse. It refers to the descending or drooping of any of the pelvic floor organs, including the bladder, uterus and vagina.

Laparoscopy is also used to treat an ectopic pregnancy, which refers to a developing embryo which has lodged and is growing inside a fallopian tube, and which will eventually rupture the fallopian tube unless it is surgically removed.

Some types of hysterectomy (the removal of the uterus and cervix or the removal of the uterus only) can also be performed using laparoscopic surgery.

Further conditions most commonly treated using laparoscopic surgery include heavy periods, pelvic pain and incontinence.

Where Is Laparoscopy Available?

Medfem Fertility Clinic is one of the first institutions in South Africa to have developed a fully comprehensive operating theatre with all the necessary equipment to perform minimally invasive surgery, including laparoscopy.

In fact, our facilities are a centre for advanced minimally invasive surgery. Most of the surgical procedures performed at Medfem are done in our state-of-the-art theaters, which are fully equipped and specially designed for minimally invasive surgery.

The specialists at Medfem Fertility Clinic have also all undergone extensive training abroad. They are experts in the field of minimally invasive surgery and teach visiting gynaecologists on an ongoing basis.

As a result, Medfem Fertility Clinic provides the highest quality of surgical care to our patients, using the latest techniques to treat many of the fertility problems that women experience, while at the same time constantly work on developing new and innovative surgical techniques.

If you would like to find out more about laparoscopy and whether it is the right treatment for you, we invite you to meet one of our fertility specialists at Medfem Fertility Clinic. It is as simple as clicking here to book an initial consultation or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.

We look forward to meeting you at Medfem Fertility Clinic!


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