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Abdominal exploration

 

Definition

Abdominal exploration is surgery to examine the contents of the abdomen. Surgery that opens the abdomen is called a laparotomy. Laparotomy may also be done to treat certain health problems and conditions.

Alternative Names

Laparotomy; Exploratory laparotomy

Description

An abdominal exploration (laparotomy) is done while you are under general anesthesia, which means you are asleep and feel no pain during the procedure. 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 issue.

A biopsy can be taken during the procedure.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

The abdomen contains many organs:

  • Gallbladder
  • Kidneys, ureters, and bladder
  • Large intestine (colon)
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Small intestine (jejunum and ileum)
  • Spleen
  • Stomach
  • Uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries (in women)

Some problems inside the abdomen can be easily diagnosed with imaging tests such as x-rays and CT scans. However, many problems require surgery to get an accurate diagnosis.

Abdominal exploration may be used to help diagnose and treat many diseases and health problems, including:

Risks

Risks of any anesthesia include the following:

  • Severe medication reaction
  • Problems breathing

Risks of any surgery include the following:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection

Additional risks include incisional hernia.

After the Procedure

The outcome from the surgery depends upon the findings.

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.


Review Date: 10/20/2008
Reviewed By: Christine Lee, MD, Department of Surgery, Marin General Hospital, Greenbrae, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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