Laparotomy | General Surgery | Apex Hospitals


What is a Laparotomy?

    A laparotomy is a surgical procedure that involves opening up the abdomen to provide access to the internal organs.

    In some cases, a laparotomy serves as an exploratory measure, allowing the surgeon to visually assess the condition of the organs and potentially collect tissue samples for diagnosis. Additionally, it can be therapeutic, enabling the treatment of specific conditions. For instance, open surgery may be necessary to remove an organ or address a critical medical issue, or the surgeon may identify and address a problem during the exploratory phase.

    The term "laparotomy" refers explicitly to the incision made through the abdominal wall to access the peritoneal cavity, encompassing the abdomen and pelvis. While it primarily denotes the incision, it is commonly used to describe the open exploratory procedure. Other terms synonymous with laparotomy include "celiotomy" (abdominal incision) and "peritonectomy" (incision into the peritoneal cavity).

Why is it done?

    Your surgeon may opt for a laparotomy to explore the peritoneal cavity in cases where the source of a problem, such as unexplained abdominal pain or internal bleeding, cannot be identified through imaging tests. If the location or extent of the issue is uncertain, or if urgency is a concern, accessing the entire cavity becomes necessary, making laparotomy the preferred choice over laparoscopy.

    While laparotomy is frequently performed as an emergency procedure, it can also be planned for various reasons. For instance, it may be part of a planned or unplanned caesarean section (C-section). Additionally, surgeons may schedule a laparotomy to remove organs or address cancer. It serves a crucial role in cancer staging, allowing doctors to determine the extent of cancer spread from its primary site, a procedure known as "staging laparotomy." Furthermore, laparotomy may involve obtaining tissue samples for biopsy purposes.

What happens during the Laparotomy?

    A laparotomy involves a significant incision, typically ranging from three to 12 inches, into the abdominal cavity. The size and specifics of the incision and the post-operative procedures vary depending on the purpose of the laparotomy. Generally, the surgery lasts for several hours. During this time, various tubes may be inserted into different parts of your body to facilitate the delivery and drainage of fluids, which typically remain in place for several days. These tubes may include:

    1. A catheter connected to a vein to administer anaesthesia, antibiotics, and intravenous fluids.

    2. A nasogastric tube is inserted through the nose to the stomach for fluid drainage.

    3. A urinary catheter to drain the bladder.

    4. Sometimes, a surgical drain, feeding tube, or parenteral nutrition administered intravenously may also be necessary.

What are the risks of Laparotomy?

    Potential complications of laparotomy may include:

  • Accidental damage to adjacent organs.
  • Excessive bleeding from injured blood vessels.
  • Infection of the wound and delayed wound healing.
  • Permanent numbness in certain areas due to nerve injury.
  • Hernias develop at the incision site or where the muscle is separated.
  • Internal scar tissue formation, known as abdominal adhesions, may disrupt organ function.
  • Bowel obstruction caused by abdominal adhesions.

Speak to our experts about Laparotomy.

    Discover more about laparotomy by speaking to our knowledgeable team. Whether you're seeking information about the procedure itself, its potential benefits, or any concerns you may have, our experts are here to provide guidance and support. Reach out to us today to learn more and have your questions answered.


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