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Abdominal exploration

Exploratory surgery; Laparotomy; Exploratory laparotomy

Abdominal exploration is surgery to look at the organs and structures in your belly area (abdomen). This includes your:

Surgery that opens the abdomen is called a laparotomy.

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Digestive system
Pelvic adhesions

Presentation

Abdominal exploration - series

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Description

Exploratory laparotomy is done while you are under general anesthesia. This means you are asleep and feel no pain.

The surgeon makes a cut into the abdomen and examines the abdominal organs. The size and location of the surgical cut depends on the specific health concern.

A biopsy can be taken during the procedure.

Laparoscopy describes a procedure that is performed with a tiny camera placed inside the abdomen. If possible, laparoscopy will be done instead of laparotomy.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Your health care provider may recommend a laparatomy if imaging tests of the abdomen, such as x-rays and CT scans, have not provided an accurate diagnosis.

Exploratory laparotomy may be used to help diagnose and treat many health conditions, including:

Risks

Risks of anesthesia and surgery in general include:

Risks of this surgery include:

Before the Procedure

You will visit with your provider and undergo medical tests before your surgery. Your provider will:

Tell your provider:

During the week before your surgery:

On the day of your surgery:

Outlook (Prognosis)

You should be able to start eating and drinking normally about 2 to 3 days after the surgery. How long you stay in the hospital depends on the severity of the problem. Complete recovery usually takes about 4 weeks.

Related Information

X-ray
CT scan
Biopsy
Appendicitis
Acute
Chronic pancreatitis
Peritonitis - spontaneous bacterial
Endometriosis
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
Adhesion
Cancer
Diverticulitis
Ectopic pregnancy
Hodgkin lymphoma

References

D'Souza RE, Novell R. Laparotomy: elective and emergency. In: Novell R, Baker DM, Goddard N, eds. Kirk's General Surgical Operations. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2013:chap 4.

Squires RA, Carter SN, Postier RG. Acute abdomen. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 45.

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Review Date: 1/7/2018  

Reviewed By: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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