The surgical exploration of the abdomen, also called an exploratory laparotomy, may be recommended when there is abdominal disease from an unknown cause (to diagnose), or trauma to the abdomen (gunshot or stab-wounds, or "blunt trauma").
Diseases that may be discovered by exploratory laparotomy include:
- inflammation of the appendix (acute appendicitis)
- inflammation of the pancreas (acute or chronic pancreatitis)
- pockets of infection (retroperitoneal abscess, abdominal abscess, pelvic abscess))
- presence of uterine tissue (endometrium) in the abdomen (endometriosis)
- inflammation of the Fallopian tubes (salpingitis)
- scar tissue in the abdomen (adhesions)
- cancer (of the ovary, colon, pancreas, liver)
- inflammation of an intestinal pocket (diverticulitis)
- hole in the intestine (intestinal perforation)
- pregnancy in the abdomen instead of uterus (ectopic pregnancy)
- to determine the extent of certain cancers (Hodgkin's lymphoma)
Update Date 5/16/2012
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Ann Rogers, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery; Director, Penn State Surgical Weight Loss Program, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.