• A laparotomy is a surgery, wherein a cut (incision) is required in the abdominal cavity.
  • A laparotomy is done in examining the organs within the abdomen and helping to identify any issue with the reproductive organs.
  • Possible risk factors include infections and the generation of scar tissues and adhesions in the abdominal cavity.
  • An alternative procedure is the laparoscopy, wherein small incisions are made instead of examining the abdominal cavity. The healing time gets reduced highly in this procedure.

A laparotomy is a surgery, wherein an incision (cut) is performed in the abdominal cavity. The surgery is done in examining the reproductive organs in the abdomen and helps in identifying the issues with them, mainly the abdominal pain. In several cases, the issues once diagnosed are remedied in the procedure. In several other cases, the problem is fixed with a second surgery. Laparotomy is also called “abdominal exploration”.

 Abdominal pain examination

A laparotomy is primarily performed for identifying the reason of abdominal pain, but the method may be performed for a wide range of problems. The abdominal system comprises of your digestive tract, like the intestines, liver and the stomach and excreting organs like the bladder and kidneys. The surgeon may require doing the operation for ascertaining the precise reason of your issue. For instance, the surgeon may require identifying the reason of internal bleeding in your digestive tract or ascertaining where your bowel has burst (perforated) before starting the treatment.

Medical problems worth considering

Before carrying out the surgery, your surgeon may like to:

  • Know from you your surgical or medical history and the lifestyle aspects, like the history of your smoking habit and the medicines you have currently been taking. Both these are vital, which may influence your surgery.
  • Appraise you about the surgery procedure and talk about the probability of carrying out another surgery after diagnosing the issues.
  • Update you about the pre-operative preparedness and what you can anticipate after carrying out the operation.
  • Carry out X-rays and Blood examination.
  • Finally, you may be asked to give consent to carry out the surgery.

Soon, before carrying out the surgery

Before performing the surgery, you may anticipate:

  • Your abdominal area may be shaved off.
  • Scrubbing lotion may be provided to you for using it in the shower. You may also be asked to change into an operating gown.
  • For emptying your bowels, perhaps, an enema may be given to you or some provided with bowel preparation medicine.
  • Your anesthetists may like to ensure that you are absolutely fit for the surgery and take down note of history of any kind of allergy.
  • You will be refrained from eating anything for several hours before carrying out the surgery.

Laparotomy procedure

A laparotomy is carried out by giving you general anesthesia. In the abdominal muscle and beneath the skin, a single incision is made for clearer viewing the underlying organs.  The uncovered organs are afterwards examined carefully.  Once the problem has been identified, it is on-the-spot fixed.  For instance, a burst bowel may be restored. In several cases, another surgery may be required. After completing the laparotomy procedure, the abdominal wall muscle and the skin above it are sewn and closed.

Soon after the surgery

After the surgery, you may anticipate:

Careful monitoring of your:

You may, perhaps, notice a draining tube attached to the wound place soon after coming out of anesthesia.

A small tube may be introduced through your nose in your stomach for clearing out secretions from the stomach for 1 or 2 days. This may help in providing rest to your digestive tract, as it restores health.

For dispelling urine, a catheter may be introduced.

As you are not allowed to consume anything for a number of days, you may be given energy fluid for your survival intravenously.

For keeping you in a comfortable position, the doctor may prescribe pain relievers regularly.

ASAP, you are prompted to do leg and deep breathing exercises.

If all goes well, you are helped to be up from bed after the surgery. For avoiding the chest infections and formation of blood clots, early walking is necessary.

Your wound is observed and cared every day and advice is given to you on how to care the wound at home.

Before discharging you, medicines are prescribed.

Likely complications

Likely complications of the procedure may include:

Bleeding because of hemorrhage

Development of an infection

Harm to reproductive and other internal organs

Building of scar tissue and adhesions

Abdominal pain and blockage of the bowel caused by adhesions.

How to take care yourself while at home:

Follow guidance given to you by your doctor. His or her usual suggestions  may include:

Try taking as much rest as possible for nearly two weeks.

Seek help from friends and relatives. You are firmly advised not to do heavy any kind of pushing, pulling or heavy lifting.

You may have to change your dietary habits. Follow all the dietary recommendations given to you by your doctor.

Ensure that you take timely medicines and exactly follow the doctor’s recommendations.

Your exercises shown to you by your doctor should be routinely continued.

Consult your doctor promptly in case your wound begins discharge or gets tender or inflamed. Such symptoms are indications of infection.

Long-term attitude

The recovery period after the laparotomy surgery generally takes nearly six weeks. But, may differ based on whether any other surgery is also performed simultaneously. As happens in other post-operative recovery, it is vital consulting your surgeon or doctor. Ensure that you undergo a last examination.

Other kinds of diagnosis

Laparoscopy, also called “keyhole surgery” is an alternative procedure to laparotomy. In laparoscopy procedure, pelvic cavity or abdomen are examined with the help of a slender tube, also called Laparoscope. A laparoscope is introduced in the abdominal area by making a small incision (cut). The laparoscope is fitted with surgical head or a small camera, and at times both the devices.

Before the introduction of laparoscopy in the medical world, the doctors always used to do a big incision and openings for examining the interior organs of the abdomen.  Laparoscopy has highly reduced the patient’s recovery period, but it is not considered appropriate in all the cases.

Where to get help

Your Surgeon or the treating doctor.

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