(Abdominal Exploration; Laparotomy, Exploratory)
by Ricker Polsdorfer, MD
This is an open surgery of the abdomen to view the organs and tissue inside.
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:
The procedure may also be done to stage cancer or to biopsy the area.
Possible Complications TOP
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a laparotomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Leading up to your procedure:
You may be given:
Description of the Procedure
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.
How Long Will It Take?
About 1-4 hours
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will prevent pain during the procedure. You will be given medicine for pain and soreness after surgery.
Average Hospital Stay
You will be in the hospital several days. If you have problems, you may need to stay longer.
At the Hospital
It may take several weeks for you to recover.
Call Your Doctor TOP
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of 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.betterh... . Updated July 2011. Accessed May 23, 2013.
Testing biopsy and cytology specimens for cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.... . Accessed May 23, 2013.
Last reviewed May 2013 by Marcin Chwistek, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 3/18/2013