A guide to exploratory laparotomy (2023)

Peer Reviewed

soft tissue surgery

Exploratory laparotomy is used to diagnose or investigate problems within the abdomen that could not be obtained through preoperative diagnosis.

16. June 2021|

Problem:July/August 2021

Krysta Janas


dr. Janas is a surgical resident at the University of Tennessee. She earned her DVM at Kansas State University and completed a rotating internship at The Animal Medical Center, a surgical internship at Veterinary Orthopedic Sports Medicine, and a research fellowship at the University of Tennessee.


Read articles written by Krysta Janas

Karen Tobias


dr. Tobias is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed an internship at Purdue University and a surgical residency and master's degree at Ohio State University. dr. Tobias has served as a clinical instructor at the University of Georgia and a tenured faculty member at Washington State University and is currently professor of small animal surgery at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. dr. Tobias is the author or co-author and editor of 3 textbooks, i.a.Veterinary surgery: Small animals, and is the author of more than 100 peer-reviewed publications.

Updated April 2022

Read articles written by Karen Tobias

A guide to exploratory laparotomy (1)

Yakov Oskanov/shutterstock.com

Exploratory laparotomy or celiotomy is commonly performed for the diagnosis, treatment or prognosis of traumatic, inflammatory, infectious, neoplastic and congenital abdominal conditions. While preoperative diagnoses such as radiography, ultrasound, and CT scans can provide information about the underlying condition, the results of these tests do not always correlate with intraoperative findings. For example, major discrepancies in diagnosis were seen in 25% of patients who underwent abdominal ultrasound and subsequent exploration.1Full exploratory laparotomy is a key component of abdominal surgery.

preoperative preparation

Perioperative antimicrobial agents are administered to animals with existing infection or prophylactically to surgical wounds classified as cleanly contaminated, contaminated, or dirty. Prophylactic antimicrobials are administered intravenously 30 to 60 minutes before the incision and may be repeated during the procedure, depending on the duration of surgery, anticipated contaminants, and drug metabolism in the species in question. In dogs, an intramuscular or subcutaneous dose of cefazolin may be administered concurrently with the intravenous dose to provide prolonged prophylaxis.2,3

The patient's entire abdomen and caudal thorax are cut and prepared aseptically. In male dogs, the preputial cavity is washed with saline or water before applying an antiseptic solution, as antiseptics are inactivated by organic material.4For dogs with suspected urinary tract obstruction, the perivulvar area is also cut and prepared so that it can be covered for intraoperative catheterization. Before beginning the procedure, the surgeon and anesthesiologist or veterinary nurse should review a surgical checklist that includes preoperative and intraoperative medications, various surgical sponges, and a list of surgical and anesthetic concerns.BOX 1indicates the surgical equipment that should be available.

BOX 1 Surgical equipment

  • General Operations Package
  • Self-retaining retractors (eg Balfour)
  • Radiopaque gauze and laparotomy sponges (count before incision)
  • sterile bowl
  • warm salt water
  • absorbable monofilament suture
  • Suction equipment (container, hose, pool suction nozzle)
  • Electrosurgical equipment (monopolar or bipolar)
  • Hemostatic products (e.g., Gelfoam [Pfizer,pfizer.com],
  • Surgicel [Ethicon,jnjmedicaldevices.com])
  • sample containers
  • Specialized instruments
    • Container sealing devices
    • Surgical staplers (eg, thoracoabdominal)
    • Carmalt and Doyen Forceps (non-advanced)
    • Biopsy punch (not advanced)

abdominal incision

For a full exploratory laparotomy, the abdomen is incised from the xiphoid to the pubis. In male dogs, the cutaneous and subcutaneous incisions diverge laterally around the prepuce; branches of the caudal superficial epigastric vessels may require ligation or cauterization. Once the subcutaneous tissue has been incised, the abdominal cavity is entered through an incision in the linea alba (FIGURE 1). If the lines are difficult to identify, the subcutaneous tissue can be neatly cut with scissors at its midline attachments (FIGURE 2).5

(Video) How To Operate - Laparotomy

Figure 1. Initial incision in the abdomen through the linea alba.

Figure 2. Removal of subcutaneous tissue from the linea alba.

The falciform ligament often obscures visualization of the cranial abdominal components and requires lateral transection and cranial ligation. A self-retaining retractor (eg, Balfour) helps maintain visualization, especially of the cranial abdomen; the surgeon must verify that there are no organs trapped between its lateral leaves and the abdominal wall. Moistened laparotomy sponges can be placed under retractor blades to protect the underlying skin and muscles.

Once the abdomen is opened, the presence, quantity and quality of the fluid must be assessed. If septic effusion is observed, samples should be obtained for culture and Gram stain. For patients with heoperitoneum, blood loss can be calculated by adding the amount of blood in the suction cup to the estimated amount of blood-saturated gauze. When completely soaked, a 4 × 4 gauze pad will contain approximately 12 mL of blood, while a 30 cm × 30 cm laparotomy sponge will contain approximately 100 mL of blood.6


A proper exploratory laparotomy depends on the veterinarian's knowledge of anatomy.FIGURE 3) and attention to detail. To avoid missing injuries, a consistent and systematic technique is used. A common method is to sequentially examine structures iabdomen cranium (membrane, liver, gallbladder, stomach, pylorus, proximal duodenum, spleen), right and left gutters (descending duodenum, pancreas, kidneys, adrenal glands, ovaries, descending colon) and caudal abdomen (bladder, ureters, uterus, urethra, prostate, sublumbar lymph nodes) before you " conduct" the intestines (i.e., examine and palpate them for lesions). If no lesions are found, the surgeon must be prepared to collect multiple samples for diagnosis, particularly in patients with digestive tract signs.

Figure 3. Ventral view of abdominal contents in a female dog. (A) Normal location of the organs. Illustration: Kip Carter.

Figure 3. (B) Intestines retracted to show dorsally located organs. Illustration: Kip Carter.

intermediate floor

The central diaphragmatic tendon and pars lateralis and costal muscles are usually tight and concave. Looseness or loss of concavity may indicate the presence of pneumothorax, pleural effusion, intrathoracic masses, or diaphragmatic hernia. Any of these findings should trigger a request for monitoring and immediate ventilatory support. Diaphragmatic visualization requires retraction of the liver, gastrointestinal tract, and spleen.

Liver and Gallbladder

The liver consists of the left lateral, left medial, quadrate, right medial, right lateral, and caudate lobes. The gallbladder lies between the right medial and square lobes of the liver; the apical half is visible, while the rest is attached to the surrounding liver tissue. Normal hepatic lobes are dark red, smooth, and well delimited. A normal gallbladder is oval or round, thin-walled, and easy to extract in dogs. Because the common bile duct and pancreatic duct in cats can be connected or open in close proximity, gallbladder expression is not recommended in cats.7Liver abnormalities include changes in size, texture or color; marginal rounding; and bleeding or mass-like lesions. Abnormal vesicles are usually firm, distended, discolored, or attached to other organs.

In generalized or peripheral liver disease, a guillotine biopsy can be performed by ligating a portion of the lobe's edge with an absorbable loop of suture tied with a single surgical drape (FIGURE 4). Liver tissue is excised distally to the ligature, which is left in place. The likelihood of obtaining diagnostic specimens increases when multiple liver lobes are biopsied.8Focal or central lesions are sampled with a skin biopsy. If bleeding continues after sample removal, a clotting aid can be applied to the defect.

Figure 4. Guillotine liver biopsy. Courtesy Josep Aisa, DVM, DECVS, University of Tennessee.

(Video) Test Operating Room footage: Laparotomy

If hepatobiliary infection is suspected, cholecentesis may be performed in conjunction with liver biopsies and cultures. If the bile is thin, a 25-gauge needle may be sufficient for gallbladder aspiration. The needle can be inserted through adherent liver tissue to reduce leakage; if inserted through the apex of the gallbladder, the gallbladder must be completely drained to reduce the riskof bile leakage. Cholecentesis should be avoided in patients with biliary mucoceles, doubtful gallbladderwall integrity or complete biliary obstruction.9


The stomach is composed of cardia, fundus, body and pylorus. The dorsal aspect of the stomach is seen by making a hole in the ventral leaf of the greater omentum to enter the omental bursa. The left branch of the pancreas and the vasculature of the spleen can be examined through the omental aperture at the same time. The only solid part of the stomach is the pylorus. The abdomen should be evaluated for abnormal color, thickness, or vascular pattern. The biopsy is performed through a full-thickness gastrotomy. For surgeons unfamiliar with normal pyloric size and thickness, pyloric assessment may require gastrotomy and digital insertion.


The spleen is in close connection with the greater curvature of the stomach and is connected to it by the gastrosplenic ligament. A normal spleen is dark purple with smooth, rounded edges, but the size and color can vary depending on the degree of splenic contraction and the effect of anesthetics. The spleen is evaluated for changes in size, symmetry, and texture; capsule integrity; and vascular supply (eg, tears, thrombosis, torsion). Although splenic biopsy can beperformed using a guillotine or wedge incision techniqueand closure, the spleen is usually removed completely if neoplasia, thrombosis, or infection is suspected.

Descending duodenum and right branch of the pancreas

The descending duodenum is the most dorsal intestinal structure in the right duct and is easily identified by the associated right branch of the pancreas. The blood supply to the descending duodenum forms an arcade from the anastomosis of the craniopancreaticoduodenal and caudopancreaticoduodenal branches of the cranial mesenteric artery; these vessels usually pass through the right branch of the pancreas. The body of the pancreas is adjacent to the pylorus, while the left branch of the pancreas lies within the greater omentum along the splenic artery and vein and is adjacent to the stomach and transverse colon. The common bile duct enters the serosal surface of the descending duodenum and travels intramural about one centimeter before opening intraluminally into the greater duodenal papilla. In animals with a dilated common bile duct, the surrounding pancreas should be evaluated for signs of inflammation or scarring, and the free and intramural portions of the duct can be gently palpated for choledocolytics or obstructive masses.

Pancreatic lobar tissue is generally white to pink, soft, thin, and flexible. The tissue can be gently palpated for nodules if an insulinoma is suspected; however, extensive or rough palpation may cause pancreatic ischemia or inflammation.10Pancreatic biopsy can be performed by blunt dissection of the lobules or ligation of a free edge using a guillotine technique. Avoid sampling areas containing large vessels or pancreatic ducts; if the pancreaticoduodenal vessels are damaged, the blood supply to the duodenum may be cut off.

Kidneys and adrenal glands

The kidneys lie in the retroperitoneal space and are often surrounded by fat. Both kidneys should be approximately the same size and shape and have a smooth exterior. Due to their retroperitoneal position and surrounding fat, the ureters are usually not visible as they exit the renal pelvis. Renal cortical biopsies are most commonly performed with a 16-gauge automated biopsy needle; for best results, 2 core samples are recommended.11The renal parenchyma bleeds extensively; however, needle biopsy bleeding usually decreases with local digital pressure.

The adrenal glands are elongated, whitish tan and firm. The left gland lies medial to the cranial pole of the left kidney and is usually visible lateral to the caudal vena cava and below the left phrenicoabdominal vein. The right adrenal gland is more cranial and may be located dorsally to the caudal vena cava, making it difficult to visualize. The glands can be examined and palpated for enlargement or nodules, but due toadjacent vascular structures, sampling is not recommended unless the surgeon has advanced training.

Ovaries and uterine horn

In intact females, the ovaries and proximal uterine horns lie caudodorsally to the kidneys. They are usually located by retracting the descending duodenum or descending colon and associated viscera on the animal's left or right, respectively, to visualize the "gutters" in the abdominal cavity. Normal ovaries and uterus vary in size and shape depending on the reproductive stage. They should be examined for masses and cysts. In ovariectomized animals showing signs of estrus, the peritoneal tissue caudal to the kidneys and adjacent intestinal mesentery or omentum should be examined and palpated for nodules; these will be more evident if the animal is in heat. Ovarian remnants may be above the ureters and therefore must be carefully dissected.

Caudal Urogenital Treatment

A normal, distended urinary bladder is thin-walled, smooth, and relatively vascular. If the bladder is enlarged and obstructs visibility, it can be emptied by manual expression, cystocentesis, or catheterization. The decompressed bladder can be retracted caudoventrally out of the abdominal cavity to expose the ureters, which enter the trigone, and underlying dorsal structures such as the uterus/cervix, descending colon, and sublumbar lymph nodes.

The bladder narrows at the trigone and proximal urethra, which are hidden by the prostate in male dogs. The dog prostate is normally bilobed and can be quite small and firm in neutered dogs. It should be examined for abnormal enlargement, pockets of fluid (cysts or abscesses), or masses. Collateral to the bladder, trigone and urethra, vas deferens and testisthe vessels become intimately connected as they descend towards the inguinal canals. A cryptorchid testicle can be locatedfollowing the testicular artery and vein oflevel of the kidneys or vas deferens of the prostate.

body wall

While the abdominal gutters are exposed or the bladder is exteriorized, the dorsal and lateral surfaces of the peritoneumthe body wall can be examined. Distortion or disturbancemay be indicative of trauma or retroperitoneal bleeding, abscess, or masses (FIGURE 5).

Figure 5. Transversus abdominis laceration.

gastrointestinal tract

Although various parts of the gastrointestinal tract are already examined visually, a final examination is performed by palpating the entire tract for changes in surface texture, color, diameter, thickness, and peristalsis.FIGURE 6). The jejunum is the longest, most mobile part of the small intestine and the region most likely to be blocked by intestinal foreign bodies. Peyer's patches are clusters of lymphoid follicles located in the small intestine; these should not be misinterpreted as neoplastic lesions.

(Video) Exploratory Laparotomy Syndaver Canine

Figure 6. Small bowel bite with secondary mesenteric laceration.

The ileum is easily identified by its antienteric branches of the ileocecal artery and vein. The adjacent appendix is ​​a C-shaped, gas-filled protrusion. The ileococolic junction is another common site of foreign body entrapment. The colon consists of ascending, transverse, and descending parts, with the descending colon continuing as the rectum at approximately the level of the pelvic brim.

Intestinal biopsy can be performed using a scalpel blade or skin biopsy to remove a full-thickness piece of tissue (FIGURE 7). Intestinal closure requires precise apposition to avoid postoperative leakage or dehiscence; the most commonly absorbable 3-0 or 4-0 monofilament suture material is used. After closure, the bowel segment can be checked for leaks by occluding the lumen orally and aborad to the site and dilating the closed segment with sterile saline injected through a 25-gauge needle. 19 mL of saline should be injected if digital occlusion is used, while 12 to 15 mL of saline should be injected if Doyen forceps is used.12The omentum should be glued over the incision to improve the seal and reduce the risk of leakage.13

Figure 7. Incisional biopsy of the small intestine.

lymph nodes

Enlarged or abnormally textured lymph nodes may be collected by aspiration, incisional biopsy, or excisional biopsy (FIGURE 8). If possible, the lymph node should be dissected free of the surrounding mesentery or peritoneum. If complete excision is uncertain, a biopsy of a free end can be performed using a guillotine technique, or a piece of the lymph node can be removed with a wedge or scrape.

Figure 8. Severely enlarged mesenteric lymph nodes.

preparation for closing

Prior to closure, consideration should be given to the need for postoperative enteral nutrition and fluid support. Nasogastric tubes can be easily placed and removed, and if the anesthesiologist advances the tube intraoperatively, the surgeon can confirm its placement in the stomach, eliminating the need for postoperative radiographs.

If the gastrointestinal tract has been entered, gloves and instruments are changed. The stomach can be flushed with warm sterile saline to decrease inflammatory mediators, remove bacteria or contaminants, and warm the patient.14,15If the procedure has minimal contamination, irrigation can be limited to the area around the biopsy or incision site. If septic peritonitis is suspected, the peritoneum should be irrigated until the return fluid is clear; this may require more than 200 ml/kg of sterile saline.16If significant contamination is still present after irrigation, continuous suction drains can be placed for postoperative fluid removal.17

After completion of all intra-abdominal procedures, sponges and laparotomy pads are counted to confirm that none are left in the abdomen.


A simple continuous or interrupted pattern can be used to place the line or outer hem of the rectum; the peritoneum should not be included. During subcutaneous tissue closure, fat may intermittently adhere to the outer sheath of the rectum to reduce the risk of seroma formation.18,19Skin edges can be secured with buried intradermal sutures, external sutures, or staples.

postoperative considerations

General postoperative care should include intravenous fluids, pain management, and nursing care. Unless significant contamination has occurred or infection is present, postoperative antibiotics are usually not required. Incisional complications are reported in 4.6% of animals undergoing laparotomy and may include infection or inflammation of the surgical site, dehiscence, pain and seroma formation.18-20


  1. Pastore GE, Cordeiro CR, Lipscomb V. Comparison of the results of abdominal ultrasonography and exploratory laparotomy in dogs and cats.GUL. 2007;43(5):264-269.
  2. Rosin E, Uphoff TS, Schultz-Darken NJ, Collins MT.Antibacterial activity of cefazolin and concentrations in serum and in the surgical wound of dogs.Am J Vet Res. 1993;54(8):1317-1321.
  3. Gonzalez OJ, Renberg WC, Roush JK, et al. Pharmacokinetics of cefazolin for prophylactic administration in dogs.Am J Vet Res. 2017;78(6):695-701.
  4. Boothe HW. Antiseptics and disinfectants.Vet Clin North Am Small Anim practice. 1998;28(2):233-248.
  5. Smeak DD. Identify the linea alba and avoid paramedian incisions during midline celiotomy. Clinician's letter.cliniciansbrief.com/article/identifying-linea-alba-avoiding-paramedian-incisions-under-midline-celiotomia. Published March 2019. Opened January 2021.
  6. Algadien EA, Aleisa AA, Alsubaie HI, et al. Assessment of blood loss using visual gauze analogue.trauma man. 2016;21(2):e34131. doi: 10.5812/traumamon.34131
  7. Cerna P, Kilpatrick S, Gunn-Moore DA. Feline comorbidities: what do we really know about triaditis in cats?J Feline Med Surg. 2020;22(11):1047-1067.
  8. Kemp SD, Zimmerman KL, Panciera DL, et al. A comparison of liver sampling techniques in dogs.J Vet Intern Med. 2015;29(1):51-57.
  9. Lidbury JA. Get the most out of your liver biopsy.Dyrlæge Clin North Am Clínica de Pequenos Animais.2017;47(3):569-583.
  10. Matthiesen DT, Mullen HS. Problems and complications associated with endocrine surgery in dogs and cats.Probl Vet Med. 1990;2(4):627-667.
  11. Crivellenti LZ, Cianciolo R, Wittum T, et al. Associations of patient characteristics, disease stage, and biopsy technique with the diagnostic quality of renal core needle biopsy specimens from dogs with suspected renal disease.JAVMAGenericName. 2018;252(1):67-74.
  12. Saile K, Boothe HW, Boothe DM. Volume of saline required to achieve predetermined intraluminal pressures during leak testing of small bowel biopsy sites in the dog.Veterinary Surgeon. 2010;39(7):900-903.
  13. Anderson E, Tobias KM. Main gastrointestinal operations: Omentalization. dvm360. dvm360.com/view/key-gastrointestinal-surgeries-omentalization. Published April 2006. Accessed January 2021.
  14. Nawrocki MA, McLaughlin R, Hendrix PK. The effects of warm and room temperature abdominal lavage solutions on core body temperature in dogs undergoing celiotomy.GUL. 2005;41(1):61-67.
  15. Souza LJ, Coelho AMM, Sampietre SN, et al. Anti-inflammatory effects of peritoneal lavage in acute pancreatitis.pancreas.
  16. Marshall H, Sinnott-Stutzman V, Ewing P, et al. Effect of peritoneal lavage on bacterial isolates from 40 dogs with confirmed septic peritonitis.J Vet Emerg Crit Care (San Antonio). 2019;29(6):635-642.
  17. Adams RJ, Doyle RS, Bray JP, Burton CA. Closed suction drainage for the treatment of confirmed septic peritonitis of gastrointestinal origin in 20 dogs.Veterinary Surgeon. 2014;43(7):843-851.
  18. Travis BM, Hayes GM, Vissio K, et al. A padded subcutaneous suture pattern to reduce seroma formation and pain 24 hours after midline celiotomy in dogs: a randomized controlled trial.Veterinary Surgeon. 2018;47(2):204-211.
  19. Lopez DJ, Hayes GM, Fefer G, et al. Effect of the subcutaneous closure technique on incisional complications and postoperative pain in cats undergoing median celiotomy: a randomized, blinded, controlled trial.Veterinary Surgeon.2020;49(2):321-328.
  20. Boothe HW, Slater MR, Hobson HP, et al. Exploratory celiatomy in 200 non-traumatized dogs and cats.Veterinary Surgeon. 1992;21(6):452-457.


How to perform an exploratory laparotomy? ›

Exploratory laparotomy is done while you are under general anesthesia. This means you are asleep and feel no pain. The surgeon makes a cut into the abdomen and examines the abdominal organs. The size and location of the surgical cut depend on the specific health concern.

How would you prepare a patient for exploratory laparotomy? ›

Before the operation, you can expect:
  1. You will be shaved in the abdominal area.
  2. You may be given a surgical scrub lotion to use in the shower and a theatre gown to wear.
  3. You may be given an enema or some other form of bowel preparation to help empty your bowels.

What is the average time for exploratory laparotomy? ›

Laparoscopy procedure usually takes 30 to 60 minutes. Diagnostic laparoscopy is a surgical procedure that evaluates the causes of pain, bleeding, lumps, or diseases in the abdomen. Diagnostic laparoscopy is also called exploratory laparoscopy. This procedure is done under local anesthesia.

What is the best incision for exploratory laparotomy? ›

The most common procedure is the midline laparotomy where an incision is made down the middle of the abdomen along the linea alba. The size of the incision can be limited depending on the site of the pathology. For example, an upper gastrointestinal problem may not require a lower midline incision.

Is laparotomy major surgery? ›

Is a laparotomy a major surgery? Yes. Whether it's an exploratory laparotomy or it's for a limited purpose, such as removing an organ, opening up your peritoneal cavity is major surgery. The incision will be long and deep, and many layers of your tissue will have to be repaired and healed.

How big is the incision for a laparotomy? ›

During laparoscopy, the surgeon makes a small cut (incision) of around 1 to 1.5cm (0.4 to 0.6 inches), usually near your belly button. A tube is inserted through the incision, and carbon dioxide gas is pumped through the tube to inflate your tummy (abdomen).

What position should a patient be in for laparotomy? ›

Reverse Trendelenburg position is typically used for laparoscopic, gallbladder, stomach, prostrate, gynecology, bariatric and head and neck surgeries. Risks to a patient in this type of position include deep vein thrombosis, sliding and shearing, perineal nerve, and tibial nerve.

What can you not do after a laparotomy? ›

You will feel tired in the first few days following your operation. Rest and recover and resume your normal activities when you feel ready to. However, avoid heavy lifting, housework and strenuous exercise for 10-14 days. Following a laparoscopy you can normally return to work within 7-14 days.

What kind of anesthesia is used in exploratory laparotomy? ›

1. Introduction. General or regional anesthesia can be appropriate for patients undergoing abdominal surgery. In common practice, balanced anesthesia with inhalational anesthetics, opioids and neuromuscular blockers are used in general anesthesia for abdominal surgical procedures.

How long after laparotomy can I walk? ›

You may feel some weakness and tiredness when you first start walking, but this is normal. Most people are moving around freely within 3-5 days after surgery.

What is the survival rate of laparotomy? ›

Mortality rates following emergency laparotomy ranges from 13% to 18% which is five times greater than high-risk elective surgery.

How long do you stay in hospital after exploratory laparotomy? ›

Depending on the site of your incision, you may have a drain to help get rid of excess fluids. One study showed that the average length of a hospital stay after an exploratory laparotomy is just over seven days.

How do you sleep after an exploratory laparotomy? ›

Sleeping on your back

One of the best sleeping position after going through any surgery is resting straight on your back. If you have had surgery on your legs, hips, spine, and arms, this position will benefit you the most. Moreover, if you add a pillow underneath your body areas, it provides more support and comfort.

How long does pain last after laparotomy? ›

Pain: wound tenderness and discomfort is uaual and may last up to 3-4 weeks. You should be be able to walk reasonably comfortably with analgesia. Wound infections are uncommon. The usual sign of an infection is that the skin around the wound becomes very red and hot or there may be discharge from the wound.

Can I sleep on my side after laparotomy? ›

Sleeping in a semi-upright position is recommended, using a few pillows to elevate the head and shoulders to avoid putting pressure on the abdominal area. Avoid sleeping on your stomach or the side where the incisions were made.

What are the long term complications of laparotomy? ›

Measurements: Long-term complications, including small bowel obstruction, hernia, and cosmesis. Short-term complications, including pneumonia, cellulitis, wound infection, prolonged ileus, and urinary tract infection.

How long does internal healing take after abdominal surgery? ›

After major abdominal surgery with a large incision it takes about two to three months to be able to move around comfortably. If you have had complex key hole surgery your recovery will be quicker. If you have had a large incision in your abdomen you should avoid lifting anything heavier than 2-3kg.

How long does an abdominal incision take to heal? ›

Depending on your state of health, it can be shorter or longer. An average time length that a lot of people say with an abdominal incision is about one to two months or even just six weeks to where you really want to let it heal and you try not to put too much pressure on your abdomen during that time.

Are muscles cut during abdominal surgery? ›

Midline incision

It utilises the relatively avascular nature of the linea alba to access the abdominal contents without cutting or splitting muscle fibres in the process, with the exception of the small pyramidalis muscle at the pubic crest.

What can you eat after laparotomy surgery? ›

Eat more protein. Protein aids in collagen formation, tissue remodeling, and skin structure that are all important for healing. Good protein sources include all animal meats, soy foods such as tofu and tempeh, eggs, dairy, nuts and nut butters, and beans. Try not to eat the same things every day.

Why do they tie your arms down during surgery? ›

With arms positioned "hands up", there is a risk of compression of the ulnar nerve at the elbow and stretching of the brachial plexus at the shoulder. In addition, no supports should be positioned directly in the axilla to avoid compressing the brachial plexus.

How do you sit after a laparotomy? ›

Following surgery it is important to maintain an upright position to allow air to reach the bases of your lungs. Suggested positions include upright sitting in bed or the chair or a side lying position. Make use of pillows for support. You can place them at your back or under your knees or both.

How do you take care of a laparotomy incision? ›

Incision care

Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing. You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.

Why is day 3 after surgery the worst? ›

Swelling and Bruising.

Tissue injury, whether accidental or intentional (e.g. surgery), is followed by localized swelling. After surgery, swelling increases progressively, reaching its peak by the third day. It is generally worse when you first arise in the morning and decreases throughout the day.

How long will my stomach be swollen after laparotomy? ›

Post-operative bloating and swelling usually peaks 48 hours after surgery, but will mostly subside by the 12-week mark.

What are the risks of exploratory laparotomy? ›

Some potential complications of exploratory surgery are: bad reaction to anesthesia. bleeding. infection.

What are the complications of exploratory laparotomy? ›

Wound infections remain the most common complication after exploratory laparotomy. The incidence is higher in cases where there is gross intra-abdominal contamination with hollow viscus involvement.

Is exploratory laparotomy a urgent surgery? ›

Many exploratory laparotomy surgical procedures are done on an emergency basis after an injury or accident. You will be checked for risks of heart, lung, or other problems during surgery.

What is the general rule after abdominal surgery? ›

It is normal to feel fatigued after surgery. It is also common to need more sleep than usual. Avoid heavy lifting (10 lbs. or more) for 6 weeks to allow most of the wound healing to occur. You may need to avoid driving for up to 2 weeks.

What surgery has the highest death rate? ›

He also slashed through the coat tails of a distinguished surgical spectator, who was so terrified that the knife had pierced his vitals he fainted from fright (and was later discovered to have died from shock). This episode has since been dubbed as the only known surgery in history with a 300 percent mortality rate.

What is the most critical surgery? ›

Thoracic aortic dissection repair

Like any form of open-heart surgery, this procedure is difficult and risky because of its delicate nature. An aortic dissection (a split or tear in your body's main artery) is a life-threatening condition which requires thoracic aortic dissection repair, a risky emergency surgery.

Can I go home after a laparotomy? ›

If you are having a diagnostic laparoscopy, you should be able to go home on the same day. This operation is usually done as a day case. When you wake from the anaesthetic, your nurse will want to make sure that you are not in pain and that it is safe for you to go home before you are discharged.

Should you stay in bed after surgery? ›

Get Plenty of Rest. With any major surgery, it's important to stay in bed as much as possible for at least 24–48 hours after the procedure. Some surgeries may require even more patient bed rest. Sleep if you feel tired and be sure to move slower than your usual pace.

How can I heal faster after abdominal surgery? ›

Ways to Improve Abdominal Surgery Recovery
  1. Move Around. Movement is just as important for recovering from abdominal surgery as it is to prepare for it. ...
  2. Have Plenty of Pillows. ...
  3. Avoid Overly Strenuous Activity. ...
  4. Engage in Some Light Exercise.
Aug 18, 2020

How do you shower after a laparotomy? ›

cover your stitches when you have a shower, with a waterproof dressing – you may be able to use a rubber glove or plastic bag if they will cover your wound. have a wash standing in a bath tub, using a cloth to clean yourself and avoiding your stitches.

What is the most painful day after surgery? ›

Pain and swelling: Incision pain and swelling are often worst on day 2 and 3 after surgery. The pain should slowly get better during the next 1 to 2 weeks.

How long after a laparotomy can I drive? ›

Getting back to normal

Most people will feel able to resume their previous activity levels by the second week following laparoscopy, any special instructions will be given on discharge. You should not drive a car for 48 hours due to the effect of anaesthetic gases.

What day is pain worse after surgery? ›

There may be a significant correlation between worst pain at 48 hours and return to normal activity within seven days. There may be a risk that patients can not return to normal activities within seven days because of worst pain experience at 48 hours after day surgery.

How can I lose my belly fat after laparotomy? ›

The best way to reduce your weight and lose belly fat after hysterectomy surgery is to incur an energy deficit.
Appropriate low impact exercises for losing belly fat after hysterectomy and overall weight loss include:
  1. Stationary bike.
  2. Elliptical machine.
  3. Low impact aerobics.
  4. Cycling outdoors.
  5. Low impact dancing.
Jul 12, 2021

Is exploratory laparotomy an open procedure? ›

An exploratory laparotomy is an open surgery usually performed by a general or trauma surgeon in a hospital under general anesthesia.

What is the surgical technique of exploratory laparotomy in trauma? ›

The trauma exploratory laparotomy is most commonly performed through a midline incision from xiphoid to pubis. This incision affords wide exposure of intraperitoneal and retroperitoneal organs and may easily be extended into a sternotomy as needed.

What position is the patient placed in for an abdominal exploratory surgery? ›

Positioning. The majority of abdominal laparoscopic procedures are performed with patients in the supine position, whereas the lithotomy position is favored for pelvic pathologies (eg, rectal cancer, gynecologic malignancies, or pelvic conditions).

What is the difference between a laparoscopy and an exploratory laparotomy? ›

Laparotomy is basically a surgical procedure which involves a large incision in the abdomen to facilitate a procedure. While laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure which sometimes referred as keyhole surgery as it uses a small incision.

What is the survival rate of exploratory surgery? ›

Overall, the mortality rate typically ranges between 10% and 20% worldwide for emergent exploratory laparotomies. It is lower for scheduled (elective) exploratory laparotomies, since patients are typically less sick and more optimized when procedures are able to be planned ahead of time.

What are the contraindications for exploratory laparotomy? ›

The primary contraindication for exploratory laparotomy is unfitness for general anesthesia. Peritonitis with severe sepsis, advanced malignancy, and other comorbid conditions may render patients unfit for general anesthesia.

What are the risks of a laparotomy? ›

Outcomes after laparotomy may be considered a proxy for surgical quality. At least one intra-abdominal complication was diagnosed in 9.3% of patients. The overall mortality for patients undergoing laparotomy was 14.8%.

What is the hardest laparoscopic surgery? ›

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) is the gold standard cholecystectomy. LC is the most common difficult laparoscopic surgery performed by surgeons today.

Why are there 3 incisions for laparoscopy? ›

Instead of the 6- to 12-inch cut necessary for open abdominal surgery, laparoscopic surgery uses two to four small incisions of half an inch or less. One is for the camera, and the others are for the surgical instruments.


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