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Exploratory Laparotomy

When you come to us with an emergency wound and need treatment, our team uses exploratory laparotomy to evaluate your abdominal organs, to assess your injuries and to stop your bleeding.

What is this surgery?

Exploratory laparotomy, an emergency open abdominal surgery, is not often needed for “Blunt Abdominal Trauma,” unless bleeding is not controllable by other measures or if there is an injury to the intestines. In contrast, laparotomy is almost always needed in cases of “Penetrating Abdominal Trauma” (gunshot wounds, stab wounds, or puncture wounds). Other potential indications for laparotomy include the following:

  • Uncontrollable blood loss
  • Penetrating abdominal trauma (gunshot wound, stab, or puncture wound)
  • Evidence of free air in the abdomen, which implies an injury to the intestines
  • Evidence of a rupture of the diaphragm muscle
  • Persistent, significant bleeding from the gastroinstestinal tract (vomiting blood or bloody stool)

Risks of Exploratory Laparotomy Include (but not limited to):

  • Bleeding
  • Infection in the abdomen or in the wound (especially in cases with injury to the intestines)
  • Injury to the surrounding organs or intestines
  • Need for further surgery or other procedures

Recovery from Laparotomy:

If you have a laparotomy for trauma, you will likely be in the hospital for 3-7 days, or more, to recover, depending on the degree of injuries sustained, as well as other injuries that you will be recovering from. Your diet will be advanced slowly as your doctor feels that you can tolerate eating. You can expect to be about 80% recovered at about 8 weeks after surgery, but complete healing will take 6-12 months. Ask your doctor about your activity restrictions after surgery. You may have a lifting restriction for 6-8 weeks after open surgery.

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