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A laparoscopic oophorectomy is a surgical procedure performed to remove one or both of a woman's ovaries. A patient may need the surgery if she has ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or especially large or painful ovarian cysts. The ovaries may also be removed as a preventive measure against existing cancers elsewhere in the body that threaten to spread to the reproductive organs. Laparoscopic oophorectomy is performed through three or more tiny incisions in the abdomen and guided with a camera to avoid having to make large, invasive cuts. It is generally safer and offers a much faster recovery time than traditional open surgical procedures.
Before considering laparoscopic oophorectomy, a woman's doctor will typically exhaust more conservative treatment options such as medications and hormone therapy. If surgery is needed, the doctor can explain the risks, benefits, and details of the procedure in a preoperative meeting. Most patients are admitted to the hospital on the night before their procedures and instructed to avoid eating or drinking. They may be given diuretics to flush their bladders and reduce the risks of complications when their surgeries are underway.
An anesthesiologist or trained nurse typically administers a general anesthetic about one hour before a laparoscopic oophorectomy. The patient is fully sedated throughout the procedure to prevent pain. To begin the procedure, a small cut is made near the naval and a thin, flexible tube camera called a laparoscope is inserted into the abdomen. Two or more additional incisions are made in the lower abdomen through which scalpels, suction devices, and other surgical tools can be manipulated.
The laparoscope camera feed appears on a monitor inside the operating room, allowing the surgeon to carefully inspect the ovaries and guide the surgical tools. One or both ovaries are carefully separated from surrounding healthy tissue and extracted through one of the abdominal incisions. Once the ovaries have been removed, the surgeon inspects the reproductive tract to ensure internal bleeding or other complications have not occurred. Tools are then taken out and the incisions are sutured with stitches or glues. Laparoscopic oophorectomy can usually be performed in about half an hour.
Following surgery, a patient can expect to stay in the hospital for at least one day to begin her recovery. Doctors provide antibiotics to reduce the chances of infection and painkillers to ease postoperative stress. Full recovery generally takes about one month and may include following special dietary and exercise instructions. Early menopause is an unavoidable result of a laparoscopic oophorectomy in which both ovaries are removed, so a woman may need to begin taking hormone supplements to ease menopause symptoms.