A laparoscope is an instrument that is inserted into the peritoneal cavity (see diagram toward the end of Gastrointestinal System). Laparoscopy usually involves incising 3 holes, one for the scope itself (to see), and 2 others for surgical instruments to manipulate around. Before its invention in the 1980s, surgeons had to perform a laparotomy, i.e. operating by slicing the abdomen open. With a laparoscope, it’s possible to do many surgeries without such a major incision. These include removing the appendix or gallbladder, repairing hernias, examining ovaries, diagnosing endometriosis, and more.
Laparoscopic surgery still requires general anesthesia. Procedures may take longer because the surgeons mobility is more restricted, but recovery time for the patient is usually shorter. Sometimes a surgeon may have good reasons for preferring open laparotomies, especially in virtually all emergencies.