Safety and risks of laparoscopy in pregnancy

Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Aug;14(4):375-9. doi: 10.1097/00001703-200208000-00003.


Purpose of review: The purpose of this review is to evaluate the indications, and the safety and efficacy of operative laparoscopy in pregnancy with a particular attention to the pregnancy outcome.

Recent findings: Hemodynamics changes during laparoscopic surgery in pregnancy are similar to those observed in the nonpregnant state. The procedure appears to be safe and reduces hospital admissions and frequency of premature labor. The safest time to perform laparoscopic surgery in pregnancy is at the second trimester. However, it can be complicated by injury to the gravid uterus and pregnancy loss. This is illustrated by a recent report of accidental gas insufflation into the amniotic cavity leading to the fetal loss.

Summary: The most common indications of laparoscopy in pregnancy are cholelithiasis, appendicitis, persistent ovarian cyst and adnexal torsion. In general, it is associated with a good maternal and fetal outcome. The occurrence of a miscarriage, premature labor or fetal death appears to be related to the underlying pathology, independent of the operative intervention. Due to the displacement of the appendix by the gravid uterus and the physiologic elevation of white blood cell count in pregnancy, diagnosis of appendicitis in pregnancy can be delayed with its sequelle. In one report, the incidence of fetal loss is 1.5% in uncomplicated appendicitis and 35% in the presence of ruptured appendicitis. Similarly, the fetal loss rate in uncomplicated cholecystectomy is 4%, but the fetal mortality in gallstone pacreatitis could be up to 60%. Laparoscopy in pregnancy should be performed with utmost care. In the second trimester of pregnancy, open laparoscopic approach is strongly recommended.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / physiology
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / adverse effects*
  • Laparoscopy / methods*
  • Nitrous Oxide / therapeutic use
  • Pneumoperitoneum, Artificial / methods
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / surgery*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Premedication
  • Time Factors
  • Tocolytic Agents / therapeutic use


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Tocolytic Agents
  • Nitrous Oxide