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Abdominal exploration
Definition Abdominal exploration is a type of surgery where the abdomen is opened (laparotomy) and explored (exploratory laparotomy) for examination and treatment of problems.
Alternative Names Laparotomy; Exploratory laparotomy
Description The abdomen contains many vital organs: the stomach, the small intestine (ileum), the large intestine (colon), the liver, the spleen, the gallbladder, the pancreas, the uterus, the Fallopian tubes, the ovaries, the kidneys, the ureters, the bladder, and many blood vessels (arteries and veins). Some problems inside the abdomen can be easily diagnosed with non-invasive tests, such as X-rays and CT scans, but many problems require surgery to "explore" the abdomen (exploratory laparotomy) to obtain an accurate diagnosis. While the patient is deep asleep and pain-free (general anesthesia), the surgeon makes an incision into the abdomen and examines the abdominal organs. The size and location of the incision depends on the clinical situation. Tissue samples ( biopsies ) can be taken and diseased areas can be treated. When the treatment is complete, the incision is closed.
Indications An exploratory laparotomy may be recommended when there is abdominal disease from an unknown cause (to diagnose). Diseases that may be discovered by exploratory laparotomy include:
  • inflammation of the appendix (
  • acute appendicitis '>acute appendicitis )
  • inflammation of the pancreas (
  • acute or chronic pancreatitis )
  • pockets of infection (retroperitoneal
  • abscess , abdominal abscess , pelvic abscess))
  • presence of uterine tissue (endometrium) in the abdomen (
  • endometriosis )
  • inflammation of the Fallopian tubes (
  • salpingitis )
  • scar tissue in the abdomen (
  • adhesions )
  • cancer
  • (of the ovary, colon, pancreas, liver)
  • inflammation of an intestinal pocket (
  • diverticulitis )
  • hole in the intestine (intestinal perforation)
  • pregnancy
  • in the abdomen instead of uterus (
  • ectopic pregnancy )
  • to determine the extent of certain cancers (
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma )
    Risks Risks for any anesthesia are:
  • reactions to medications
  • problems breathing
  • Risks for any surgery are:
  • bleeding
  • infection
  • Additional risks include incisional hernia .
    Expectations after surgery The outcome from the surgery itself is usually excellent.
    Convalescence Eating and drinking can usually resume 2 to 3 days after the surgery. Hospital stays vary with the severity of the underlying problem. Complete recovery usually takes about 4 weeks.

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