Ricker Polsdorfer, MD
This is an open surgery of the abdomen to view the organs and tissue inside.
This procedure is done
to evaluate problems in the abdomen.
Problems that may need to be examined with an exploratory laparotomy include:
The procedure may also be done to stage cancer or to biopsy the area.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
Leading up to your procedure:
You may be given:
A long incision will be made in the skin on your abdomen. The organs will be examined for disease. The doctor may take a
biopsy. If the problem is something that can be repaired or removed, it will be done at this time. The opening will be closed using staples or stitches.
About 1-4 hours
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
You will be in the hospital several days. If you have problems, you may need to stay longer.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
It may take several weeks for you to recover. Your activities will be restricted for the first couple of weeks. Once cleared by your doctor, you can slowly resume normal activity. You may be given a prescription to help with any remaining discomfort. Follow the wound care instructions to prevent infection.
It is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the hospital. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Laparotomy. Better Health Channel website. Available at:
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Laparotomy. Updated July 2011. Accessed May 23, 2013.
Testing biopsy and cytology specimens for cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at:
http://www.cancer.org/treatment/understandingyourdiagnosis/examsandtestdescriptions/testingbiopsyandcytologyspecimensforcancer/index?sitearea=ped. Accessed May 23, 2013.
Last reviewed January 2015 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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