Children's Hospital Colorado

Laparoscopy for the Evaluation and Treatment of Endometriosis

We’re passionate about providing answers, treatment and care for the full range of female reproductive health concerns, from infancy through adolescence and into adulthood.



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What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis occurs when tissue from the inner lining of the uterus (called the endometrium) spreads outside of the uterus. This tissue continues to act just as it would inside the uterus during the menstrual cycle — thickening, breaking down and sometimes bleeding. This causes inflammation and irritation, resulting in pain, especially during the menstrual period.

There is no cure for endometriosis, but treatment can help manage symptoms and significantly reduce pain. Because endometriosis spreads over time, it’s best to evaluate and treat as soon as possible to minimize long-term pain.

Endometriosis illustration

Using diagnostic laparoscopy for endometriosis

The only way to diagnose the condition is to perform a procedure called a diagnostic laparoscopy. This minimally invasive surgical procedure allows the surgeon to look at the pelvic organs with a small camera.

We may order a pelvic ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test prior to the procedure to rule out other possible conditions. An ultrasound uses soundwaves to produce an image of inside the pelvis, while am MRI uses magnets to produce the image.

Why choose us for diagnostic laparoscopy and laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis?

At Children’s Hospital Colorado, our board-certified pediatric and adolescent gynecologists have specialized training and a wealth of experience in reproductive issues.

We understand that endometriosis can be stressful, and we are sensitive to you or your child’s needs. We work to put you and your family at ease by carefully explaining the condition, discussing the various treatment options for endometriosis and supporting you or your child and family after surgery. That includes follow-up visits and consultation with our colleagues in other specialties as needed, including psychology, chronic pain, urology and gastroenterology.

We provide the highest standard of surgical care, routinely performing laparoscopy on patients ranging from adolescents to young adults. Our anesthesiology team is specifically trained in the airway management of children and teens, carefully monitoring breathing during the procedure and ensuring airway passages are clear. Our team also recognizes that this surgery can be a scary process for young patients and takes extra steps to be gentle and sensitive in their care.

What to expect during laparoscopy for endometriosis

Outpatient laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis can effectively diagnose and treat the condition during the same operation. While there are both non-surgical and surgical treatment options for endometriosis, laparoscopic surgery is often the best option for most.

During the procedure, the patient will be under general anesthesia, which keeps them asleep during surgery. They won’t feel any pain or remember the procedure.

The surgeon then makes two or three very small incisions, about 5mm in length, on the abdomen. One incision is used to place a camera, and the other incisions are used to insert surgical instruments.

The surgeon uses the camera with a light system to see inside the abdomen and pelvis. They fill the surgical area with safe carbon dioxide air to expand it, which provides a better view and more room to maneuver.

The surgeon then uses the surgical instruments to explore the pelvis, looking for the cause of pelvic pain, as well as potential deposits of endometriosis. They carefully cut or burn away the endometriosis lesions using a combination of a laser and high-energy electrosurgery devices.

After the procedure, the surgeon closes the incision sites with absorbable sutures under the skin. The stitches will dissolve on their own and don’t need to be removed later.

The surgery takes approximately 1 to 2 hours, depending on the size and number of the endometriosis lesions.

What to expect after laparoscopy for endometriosis

You or your child will be able to go home 1 to 2 hours after surgery. Like any other procedure performed under anesthesia, the patient may experience nausea and vomiting. These side effects are related to the anesthesia medicines and the surgeon’s movement inside the abdomen during the procedure.

A unique side effect caused by laparoscopic surgery is shoulder pain, which may last for 2 to 3 days following surgery. This is caused by the carbon dioxide gas used during surgery. You or your child may also experience pain at the incision sites, but this tends to be mild, given the small size of the incisions.

Recovery varies from one patient to the next, but in general, you or your child can return to most regular activities within a few days to one week. The patient should not shower for 24 hours after surgery and should not swim or take a bath for one week after surgery.

In addition to routine post-surgery care, we’ll schedule follow-up appointments to discuss all findings from the surgery. We can also talk about hormonal treatments to help manage any long-term pain and minimize the recurrence of new endometriosis lesions.

If you have any questions or concerns after the procedure, call the ParentSmart Healthline at 1-855-KID-INFO (543-4636). Caring pediatric nurses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help answer your questions.