- What Is
- How Is It Done?
- Recovery Times
What is an exploratory laparotomy?
An exploratory laparotomy is an open surgical procedure for visual examination of the abdominal organs, tissue and blood vessels. An exploratory laparotomy is often an emergency procedure for patients with acute abdominal pain from disease or injury to the abdomen.
With the availability of sophisticated imaging technologies and laparoscopy, the need for an exploratory laparotomy has diminished. Nonetheless, it is a valuable procedure for acute abdominal conditions.
Why is an exploratory laparotomy done?
The primary purpose of an exploratory laparotomy is to identify the cause of acute abdominal pain and treat it. An exploratory laparotomy is generally performed only in an emergency or after other less invasive methods have not been successful in diagnosis.
An exploratory laparotomy may often be converted into a therapeutic procedure. An exploratory laparotomy is usually performed when there is suspected
- Abdominal bleeding
- Abdominal infection
- Injury to the abdominal organs
- Bowel or colon perforation
- Intestinal obstruction
- Collection of gastric contents in the abdominal cavity
- Ectopic pregnancy
An exploratory laparotomy may also be done for other purposes, such as to stage an ovarian cancer or Hodgkin disease.
Is a laparotomy a major surgery?
How is an exploratory laparotomy done?
A general or specialized surgeon usually performs an exploratory laparotomy under general anesthesia in the hospital operation theatre.
Before the surgery, the patient:
- Undergoes a physical examination, and blood, urine and imaging tests.
- Ideally, must not eat or drink anything for 8 hours prior to the surgery.
- Must inform the doctor of any allergies.
- Must check with the doctor before taking any regular medications.
- Must empty their bladder and bowel.
- The anesthesiologist administers anesthesia and monitors the vital functions during the surgery.
- The surgeon usually inserts a tube through the nose into the stomach to decompress the stomach.
- The surgeon also inserts a urinary catheter to decompress the bladder.
- The surgeon makes a vertical midline incision in the upper, middle or lower stomach wall depending on the expected source of the pain.
- The surgeon carefully opens up the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum).
- If there is blood, bodily fluids, or gastric contents present in the abdominal cavity, the surgeon will suction them out.
- The surgeon systematically inspects every organ in the abdominal area for damage or disease.
- Depending on the findings, the surgeon performs all possible remedial treatments required.
- The surgeon may remove tissue samples for biopsy.
- The surgeon closes the incision with sutures.
- The anesthetist will slowly wean the patient off anesthesia.
- The patient will be under observation for several hours in the recovery room.
- Pain medication will be administered for postoperative pain.
How long does it take to recover from exploratory laparotomy?
An exploratory laparotomy may involve five to 10 days of hospitalization, but this varies widely with individuals. The recovery period depends on the severity of the underlying condition and the complexity of the surgery. Some may need additional treatments or surgeries, which could extend their hospital stay.
What are the risks and complications of an exploratory laparotomy?
Anesthetic side effects such as
Surgical risks such as
- Blood clots
- Organ damage
- Collapse of the lung (pulmonary atelectasis)
- Reaction to medications
- Wound infection and sepsis
- Paralysis of intestinal muscles (paralytic ileus)
- Opening of stomach wall sutures (abdominal wall dehiscence)
- Abscess or collection of pus or fluid in the abdomen
- Abnormal connection between the intestine or stomach and the skin (enterocutaneous fistula)
- Adhesions in the intestines causing obstruction
- Incisional hernia
Wound infections are the most common complication after an exploratory laparotomy, especially if there is gastric content leakage. Death rate is high in laparotomy performed in cases of trauma because of hemorrhage.
Latest Digestion News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Why Is an Exploratory Laparotomy Done Related Articles
Abdominal Adhesions (Scar Tissue)Abdominal adhesions (scar tissue) bands of scar tissue that form between abdominal organs and tissues. Symptoms of abdominal adhesions are pelvic or abdominal pain. Abdominal adhesions on the intestines can cause bowel obstruction, which is a medical emergency. Treatment for abdominal adhesions is generally surgery to cut the adhesions away from the internal tissues and organs. There is no way to prevent abdominal adhesions.
What Causes Abdominal Pain?Abdominal pain can have many causes that range from mild to severe. Some of these causes include bloating, gas, colitis, endometriosis, food poisoning, GERD, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ovarian cysts, abdominal adhesions, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, gallbladder disease, liver disease, and cancers. Signs and symptoms of the more serious causes include dehydration, bloody or black tarry stools, severe abdominal pain, pain with no urination or painful urination. Treatment for abdominal pain depends upon the cause.
Abdominal Pain PicturesAbdominal pain is a symptom of many possible conditions including appendicitis, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and other conditions. It may accompany constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms. Find out the potential causes of pain in the abdomen and learn when you should see a doctor.
Children's Abdominal PainAbdominal pain in children can be more than just a tummy ache. What are the common causes of abdominal pain in children? Learn about pediatric abdominal pain symptoms and treatments for stomach pain in children.
First AidFirst aid is a complicated subject and it is situation-specific. First aid is defined as the help and medical assistance someone a sick or injured person. Preparedness is key to first aid, like having basic medical emergency kits in your
- boat, or
- puncture wounds,
- strains, and
- heart attacks,
- seizures, and
- heat stroke
Hernia (Abdominal Hernia, Types, and Surgery)A hernia occurs when an organ or piece of tissue protrudes from the space in which it is normally contained. Symptoms of a hernia include pain, nausea, vomiting, bowel obstruction, and fever. Hernias are diagnosed by a physical exam and imaging tests. Some hernias may be held in place with a supportive belt. Other hernias require surgical repair. The prognosis of people who undergo elective hernia repair tends to be good.
Peritonitis is a bacterial infection inside of the abdomen. Some doctors choose to group the causes of peritonitis into five categories; 1) primary peritonitis, 2) secondary peritonitis, 3) tertiary peritonitis, 4) chemical (sterile) peritonitis, and 5) peritoneal abscess. Others do not categorize peritonitis, they use a term to describe the disease in front or behind the word peritonitis. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Treatment is generally with antibiotics.
SepsisSepsis (blood poisoning) is a potentially deadly infection with signs and symptoms that include elevated heart rate, low or high temperature, rapid breathing and/or a white blood cell count that is too high or too low and has more than 10% band cells. Most cases of sepsis are caused by bacterial infections, and some cases are caused by fungal infections. Treatment requires hospitalization, IV antibiotics, and therapy to treat any organ dysfunction.