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Laparotomy for Pelvic Problems - Topic Overview

A laparotomy is a surgical procedure that allows the surgeon to visually inspect the abdominal cavity through an incision in the abdomen. Laparotomy may be used in the diagnosis and treatment of female pelvic conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, and ectopic pregnancy. Laparotomy is usually done under general anesthesia.

Laparotomy is most often done:

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  • When a life-threatening condition is present, such as appendicitis or ectopic pregnancy, that requires immediate surgery.
  • When scarring (adhesions) or abnormal conditions make it difficult to use laparoscopy to see inside the abdomen.
  • For diagnosis of pelvic symptoms. Treatment can be done at the same time.

For PID, laparotomy is not done as often as laparoscopy, which requires special equipment and training. But laparotomy is done if a hospital is not equipped for laparoscopy, or if another problem is suspected, such as a ruptured appendix.

The hospital or surgery center may send you instructions on how to get ready for your surgery, or a nurse may call you with instructions before your surgery.

Right after surgery, you will be taken to a recovery area where nurses will care for and observe you. You most likely will stay in the recovery area for 1 to 4 hours, and then you will be moved to a hospital room. In addition to any special instructions from your doctor, your nurse will explain information to help you during your recovery.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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