In North America, about 5.5 million women suffer from endometriosis, according to the Cleveland Clinic. A disorder of the female reproductive system, endometriosis involves the uterine lining to grow in other areas of the woman’s body.
Common areas of endometrial tissue implants include the pelvic area lining, bowel, rectum, bladder and ovaries. Women who have endometriosis experience pain, which can occur with their menstruation, bowel movements, or during or after sexual intercourse.
Endometriosis may affect fertility: between 30 and 50 percent of women who are infertile have endometriosis, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
One treatment option for endometriosis is surgery. Laparoscopy is a type of endometriosis surgery. With this procedure, the surgeon uses a thin tube that is lighted (a laparoscope) that is inserted into a small cut in the woman’s abdomen.
The laparoscope allows the surgeon to see the endometriosis. Once the surgeon detects the endometrial tissue implants, she can use small instruments to remove them. These additional instruments are inserted either through other small incisions or through the laparoscope.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists noted that laparoscopy tends to be an outpatient procedure. This type of endometriosis surgery does have side effects, such as internal bleeding, infection, hernia or bleeding at the incision site, and injury to the patient’s internal organs.
Undergoing laparoscopy for endometriosis may improve a woman’s chance of getting pregnant, but the American Society for Reproductive Medicine stated that how much better the chance will be is unknown.
Another surgical option is a laparotomy, which is more invasive than a laparoscopy. The Cleveland Clinic noted that patients who undergo a laparotomy may have their endometriosis, uterus or both removed. If the uterus is removed, the procedure is called a hysterectomy.
This type of endometriosis surgery is considered a last resort for treatments. Women who undergo a hysterectomy will be unable to have children in the future.
Patients who have extreme pain may undergo procedures that cut or remove nerves. One procedure is laparoscopic uterine nerve ablation, or LUNA, which can be done during a laparoscopy. These types of procedures cannot be reversed, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Cleveland Clinic. Facts About Endometriosis. Web. 7 February 2012
American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Endometriosis and Infertility: Can Surgery Help?. Web. 7 February 2012
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Laparoscopy. Web. 7 February 2012
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Endometriosis. Web. 7 February 2012
MayoClinic.com. Endometriosis. Web. 7 February 2012
Reviewed February 7, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith