10 Questions To Ask Before Your Laparoscopy
By Sarah Rose / @mypelvicpain
On Wednesday 17th July 2019, I had my first Laparoscopy and Excision Surgery for suspected Endometriosis. I had suffered from pelvic pain for ten years before I got to this point, and the sad truth is that on average it will take nine years for a diagnosis of Endometriosis in Ireland and an average of seven and a half years in the UK. What I have learnt on my journey is that knowledge is power and that we as women and as people with uteruses often have to be our own advocates. It’s not easy and asking doctors questions can be sometimes be intimidating, especially if you’ve spent years searching for answers or been told your pain is a, ‘normal women’s problem.’ But this is your body and your right. You deserve to know the best choices for you, so I’ve put together this piece that covers ten important questions to ask before your Laparoscopy.
Most of the questions & tips I’m going to cover have come from this amazing article by the Endometriosis Association of Ireland. Read it in full here. I also requested the help of the amazing @endoawareni who kindly fact checked this piece to ensure it provided the best information available.
Question 1. What is Excision Surgery?
Excision surgery is the gold standard treatment for endometriosis. Choose a surgeon who is skilled and will be able to carry out full excision of your endometriosis. Excision cuts out your endometriosis leaving none of the disease behind. It can offer long-term relief from symptoms and means that your tissue sample can be sent to the pathology lab to confirm you have the condition.
Question 2. Will I need a bowel specialist or urologist present?
If extensive endometriosis is found on your bowel or bladder will your surgeon be able to remove the endometriosis, or will a bowel specialist or urologist be required for your surgery?
Question 3. Do I need to do bowel prep?
Endometriosis can often cause bowel symptoms with 60% of patients describing some type of bowel issue. But not all surgeons will check there. If they haven’t mentioned bowel prep, ask them about it. Bowel prep is when you take a laxative to clear your bowel, this means it will be clear and ready for surgery and can be checked. If your surgeon hasn’t asked you to do a bowel prep, this likely means they will not be checking your bowel for endometriosis.
Question 4. What areas of my body will you check for Endometriosis?
To ensure that no areas of endometriosis are missed, request that your surgeon looks at your pelvis, diaphragm and upper abdominal area.
Question 5. How many Laparoscopies do you perform a year?
This will give you an idea if Endometriosis is their primary interest as not all gynaecologists will have a special interest in Endo.
Question 6. Will you send the tissue removed to a pathology lab for testing?
Your results must be sent off to a pathology lab to officially test and confirm you have endometriosis but also to make sure it was excised correctly. Ask if your sample will be sent and how long it will take for the results. If you have an ablative procedure, no tissue will be sent.
Question 7. How long is my expected recovery?
Everyone’s recovery will be different depending on what surgery they are having. Ask about an estimated time for your recovery, when you will be able to drive, return to work etc. However, remember that everyone heals at different rates and this all depends on what the find during the procedure, so don’t put yourself under any pressure to feel a certain way post op.
Question 8. What will my first period be like post-op?
This is such an important question. I had my period two days after my surgery & it definitely was a kicker. Your first period after your op may be painful, you may experience pain in your second and third period post-op too as it can take around three months for everything to settle down.
Question 9. When will I receive my results, and when will my follow up consultation be?
After your surgery, your surgeon should tell your results soon after your procedure. Here they will tell you if they removed any abnormalities, if it was endometriosis, and how long you should expect to wait for your results from the sample sent to the lab. They will then send a letter to your GP outlining the procedure, what was excised and the findings, when the pathology report gets back.
Question 10. Who else can you refer me to post-op to help with my pain?
Your care shouldn’t cease after your surgery. You have every right to ask if you can be referred to aftercare options such as pelvic floor physiotherapy, a pain clinic or counselling for chronic pain.
If you’re lucky your surgeon will answer these questions before you even need to ask, but if they don’t and you have questions, remember that you as a patient have EVERY right to know what the procedure entails and to choose a treatment plan that is right for YOU. Questions are only natural and should be welcomed. You ALWAYS have a right to a second opinion and to voice any concerns you may have.
Throughout my journey the Endometriosis Association of Ireland have been incredibly helpful and supportive. You can find out more information about their amazing organisation here and how they too can help you if you are based in Ireland and suspect you may have endometriosis.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi, I'm Sarah Rose a gal in her twenties from Belfast, who has suffered pelvic pain for ten years. I decided to start the conversation regarding pelvic pain after suffering in silence for so long I created my Instagram @mypelvicpain & blog www.mypelvicpain.co.uk. I've been overwhelmed by the love and strength of so many amazing people who are going through this. Together we can raise awareness & support one another through anything. You are not alone and I believe you, your pain is real.