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Laparoscopy

LaparoscopyLaparoscopy is a surgical procedure that involves insertion of a narrow telescope-like instrument through a small incision in the belly button. This allows visualization of the abdominal and pelvic organs including the area of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

This procedure allows us to determine whether there are any defects such as scar tissue, endometriosis, fibroid tumors and other abnormalities of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

If any defects are found then they can sometimes be corrected with operative laparoscopy which involves placing instruments through ports in the scope and through additional, narrow (5 mm) ports which are usually inserted at the top of the pubic hair line in the lower abdomen.

Because of the cost and invasive nature of laparoscopy it should not be the first test in the couples diagnostic evaluation. In general, semen analysis, hysterosalpingogram, assessment of ovarian reserve and documentation of ovulation should be assessed prior to consideration of laparoscopy. For example, if the woman has a clear ovulation problem or her male partner has a severe sperm defect then it is unlikely that laparoscopy will provide additional useful information that will help them conceive.

Laparoscopy was part of the standard female infertility work-up until the mid 1990's. Before then most reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialists did laparoscopy prior to using gonadotropins for superovulation of the ovaries as a fertility treatment. However, this tradition has been challenged as being of questionable benefit when assessed by its cost-effectiveness and invasiveness.

Fertility clinics are doing far less diagnostic laparoscopy today than in the 1980's and 1990's. Much of this is due to the major advances in IVF technologies and the resulting increases in IVF success rates. Couples are carefully considering the costs of fertility treatments for women. They are asking for insemination treatments and in vitro fertilization, but are usually not interested in having diagnostic surgery.