Exploratory Laparotomy

This is an open surgery of the abdomen to view the organs and tissue inside. Abdominal Organs, Anterior ViewCopyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Call Your Doctor

    Call your doctor if any of these occur:

    • Fever or chills
    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
    • Increasing pain or pain that does not go away
    • Your abdomen becomes swollen or hard to the touch
    • Diarrhea
      or constipation that lasts more than 3 days
    • Bright red or dark black stools
    • Lightheadedness or fainting
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
    • Pain or difficulty with urination
    • Swelling, redness, or pain in your leg

    If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    This is an open surgery of the abdomen to view the organs and tissue inside.

    Abdominal Organs, Anterior View
    IMAGE
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Procedure

    This procedure is done
    to evaluate problems in the abdomen.

    Problems that may need to be examined with an exploratory laparotomy include:

    • A hole in the bowel wall
    • Ectopic pregnancy—pregnancy outside of the uterus
    • Endometriosis
    • Appendicitis
    • Damage to an organ from trauma
    • Infection in the abdomen

    The procedure may also be done to stage cancer or to biopsy the area.

  • Possible Complications

    Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

    • Bleeding
    • Infection
    • Blood clots
    • Damage to organs
    • Hernia formation
    • Large scars
    • Reaction to the anesthesia

    Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:

    • Smoking
    • Drinking
    • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or obesity