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Laparoscopy ˌlap-ə-ˈräs-kə-pē

By Walter W. Chan, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Director, Center for Gastrointestinal Motility, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Endoscopy, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Laparoscopy is an examination of the abdominal cavity using an endoscope (see Endoscopy), usually with the person under general anesthesia (see General anesthesia). After the appropriate area of the skin is washed with an antiseptic, a small incision is made, usually in the navel. Then an endoscope is passed into the abdominal cavity. A doctor can look for tumors or other abnormalities, examine nearly any organ in the abdominal cavity, take tissue samples, and even do surgery. Complications include bleeding, infection, and perforation.