Abdominal exploration

Definition

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.

Alternative Names

Exploratory surgery; Laparotomy; Exploratory laparotomy

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 group of procedures that are performed with a tiny camera placed inside the abdomen. If possible, laparoscopy will be done instead of laparotomy.

Why the Procedure is Performed

Your doctor 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 health care 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.

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, Postier RG. Acute abdomen. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 47.