What is a laparotomy?

An exploratory laparotomy is, just as the name implies (OK, only if you've taken Latin in high school) a surgical procedure whereby the surgeon makes an incision to open up the patient's abdomen to 'explore' inside of it. It is often done in instances where there is no clear definitive solution to whatever is going on and surgeons want to go in to "take a look."

Often times, if you are being asked to sign for informed consent for the exploratory laparotomy there may often be another procedure listed, like 'exploratory laparotomy with possible appendectomy.'

Laparotomy is NOT to be confused with the other related procedure---laparoscopy, where cameras and other instruments are inserted into the abdomen via small holes placed in the skin of the abdomen. For example, the previously mentioned appendectomy can be done either by a laparotomy (open approach) or by a laparoscopic (closed) approach.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.