How to prepare for a laparoscopy – part 2

This is part 2 of an in-depth series, where our endometriosis columnist Emma Kemsley answers your questions about undergoing a laparoscopy for endometriosis. To view part 1 click here.

Is a laparoscopy the only way to diagnose endometriosis?

No. Endometriosis can be seen on both an ultrasound and MRI. However, a laparoscopy provides an in-depth analysis of the condition. Initially, over 10 ultrasounds missed my stage 4 endometriosis. An MRI showed some adhesions, but my laparoscopy revealed the extent of the problem. A laparoscopy also allows treatment of the endo, ovarian cyst removal, fluid drainage etc

I have my laparoscopy date, what happens next?

Before your laparoscopy you’ll need a pre-op. A nurse will take bloods, blood pressure, height, weight etc You will be asked questions about your medical history, health and home circumstances. It’s a good opportunity to ask any questions you may have or address any concerns about the procedure. You will also receive a letter outlining details of the surgery and medical advice.

How long do I wait between pre-op and surgery?

In my experience, I have only waited a couple of days between pre-op and surgery. However, research has shown that due to the pandemic the wait time can be slightly longer. It is usually no longer than two to six weeks.

I’m nervous. How can I prepare myself for surgery?

Experiencing anaesthetic or surgery for the first time can be a daunting prospect, but there is no need to be afraid. A laparoscopy is a relatively straightforward procedure. Gynaecologists are trained in this surgery and carry out hundreds of operations every year. You will be made fully aware of the risks, as it is a legal requirement, but it doesn’t mean those things will happen to you.

Try to stay calm in the lead up to your surgery. Practice meditation or listen to mindfulness apps if you feel stressed. If you are extremely nervous, tell the nurse at your pre-op. They will take this into consideration and help you stay calm on the day and may even be able to provide medication to help. On my first surgery, my consultant held my hand as I fell asleep as he knew how nervous I was.

My top tip is to avoid Google and social media. You can fall down an Internet rabbit hole of do’s and don’ts, unsolicited advice and medical dramas. Save all your questions for the medical professionals who are looking after you.

Can I stay awake during a laparoscopy?

No, a laparoscopy requires general anaesthetic for your own safety. I did ask on my first surgery as I was terrified. Anaesthetic will be like the best nap you’ve ever had!

Will I have to take a bowel prep before my lap?

This depends on individual circumstances. If you have known bowel endometriosis or are having treatment for this, then bowel prep will be likely. However, despite having bowel endo, I have never had a bowel prep for my laparoscopy, but this is because it hasn’t been directly treated during surgery.

Do I need to fast for a laparoscopy?

Yes. You will need to fast between 12-24 hours before your laparoscopy. The exact fasting time will be provided at the pre-op and on your surgery letter.

Part 3 coming soon – packing your hospital bag for a laparoscopy.