Abdominal exploration is surgery to look at the organs and structures in your belly area (abdomen). This includes your:AppendixBladderGallbladderIntestinsKidney and ureters LiverPancreasSpleenStomachUterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries (in women) Surgery that opens the abdomen is called a laparotomy.
Alternative NamesLaparotomy; Exploratory laparotomy
DescriptionExploratory laparotomy is done while you are under general anesthesia, which 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 camera placed in the abdomen. If possible, laparoscopy will be done instead of laparotomy.
Why the Procedure Is PerformedYour 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:Cancer of the ovary, colon, pancreas, liverEndometriosisGallstonesHole in the intestine (intestinal perforation)Inflammation of the appendix (acute appendicitis)Inflammation of an intestinal pocket (diverticulitis)Inflammation of the pancreas (acute or chronic pancreatitis)Liver abscessPockets of infection (retroperitoneal abscess, abdominal abscess, pelvic abscess)Pregnancy outside of the uterus (ectopic pregnancy)Scar tissue in the abdomen (adhesions)
RisksRisks of any anesthesia include the following:Severe medication reactionProblems breathingRisks of any surgery include the following: BleedingInfectionDamage to nearby structuresAdditional risks include incisional hernia.
Outlook (Prognosis)You should be able to start eating and drinking normally about 2 - 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.
ReferencesMartin RS, Meredith JW. Management of acute trauma. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 18.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: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 47.