Introduction to Laparotomy

Laparotomy is a surgical procedure that helps in the diagnosis and treatment of intra abdominal organs. It is a type of open surgery. Laparotomy is also referred to as celiotomy by some medical professionals. Incisions are made into the abdominal wall to gain access to the intra abdominal organs (such as liver, spleen, kidneys, etc) and the abdominal cavity. Post-surgical care is equally important to prevent any unnecessary complications such as infection and hemorrhage. The successful execution of laparotomy has opened up new horizons of surgical sciences. In this article, we’ll discuss “what is laparotomy” in detail. 

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Laparotomy Meaning 

Laparotomy is a surgical procedure that involves opening the abdominal or peritoneal cavity by making incisions through the abdominal wall. This surgical procedure involves an incision in the abdominal wall to diagnose or treat the abdominal organs. Laparotomy meaning is also celiotomy. This is the exact laparotomy definition. A successful laparotomy consists of one or more incisions into the abdominal wall via the skin, muscles, and peritoneum, repair or removal of the intra abdominal organs, and lastly a safe closure of the incisions. Laparotomy can be divided into two types such as exploratory laparotomy and therapeutic laparotomy. The safe execution of laparotomy has opened up a whole new field of medical sciences.


Laparotomy Procedure

The laparotomy procedure involves making incisions into the abdominal wall to gain access to the intra abdominal organs. Depending on the organ to be accessed, incisions can be of different types. The standard incision also known as the midline incision runs through the linea alba. The Paramedian incision runs on the side of the midline and can be used to access kidneys and adrenal glands. Pfannenstiel incision is a cut below the umbilicus and is required to access the pelvic region. A transverse or horizontal incision is often preferred by surgeons as it deals less damage to the nerve vessels and blood vessels and also heals comparatively faster. Apart from this, the subcostal and Chevron incisions are made to treat the liver and the spleen.


Laparotomy provides access to the intra abdominal organs or space. Through laparotomy, the digestive tract ( stomach, duodenum, ileum, jejunum, and colon), the retroperitoneal organs ( kidneys, aorta, adrenal glands, and the lymph nodes ), the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, and the urinary bladder can be diagnosed and treated. In the case of males the prostate and for females the uterus and the ovary can also be treated with laparotomy. Laparotomy is extensively used by surgeons to treat abdominal disorders such as abdominal pain, abdominal trauma, peritonitis, abdominal infections, damaged or perforated intra abdominal organs. Laparotomy can also be used to check the spread of cancer or endometriosis in the abdominal regions.


Complications of Laparotomy 

Even though laparotomy is extremely helpful a few complications might occur if proper rest and care are not taken after the surgery. Hemorrhage and internal bleeding may occur if the abdominal wall is not closed properly due to inherent resistance. This may also lead to the opening of the wound. Formation of scar tissues and abdominal pain may occur due to adhesion. This may lead to the blockage of bowel packages. Apart from this wound infections may also occur. That’s why proper care must be taken after the surgery. It is mandatory to follow the doctor’s instructions after the surgery. With limited movement, lots of rest, and proper medication a speedy recovery is ensured.


Did You Know? 

  1. The first successful laparotomy was performed to treat a bullet wound by Elphine Macdowell in Danville, Kentucky. The operation was carried out without the administration of any anesthetics.

  2. It takes almost 6-8 weeks to completely heal from the surgery. The scar mark however fades away with time.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is Laparotomy?

Ans: Laparotomy is a surgical procedure that involves opening the abdominal or peritoneal cavity by making incisions through the abdominal wall. This surgical procedure involves an incision in the abdominal wall to diagnose or treat the abdominal organs. Laparotomy is also known as celiotomy. This is the exact laparotomy definition. A successful laparotomy consists of one or more incisions into the abdominal wall via the skin, muscles, and peritoneum, repair or removal of the intra abdominal organs, and lastly a safe closure of the incisions. Laparotomy can be divided into two types such as exploratory laparotomy and therapeutic laparotomy. The safe execution of laparotomy has opened up a whole new field of medical sciences.

2. What are the Types of Incisions Made During Laparotomy?

Ans: The laparotomy procedure involves making incisions into the abdominal wall to gain access to the intra abdominal organs. Depending on the organ to be accessed, incisions can be of different types. The standard incision also known as the midline incision runs through the linea alba. The Paramedian incision runs on the side of the midline and can be used to access kidneys and adrenal glands. Pfannenstiel incision is a cut below the umbilicus and is required to access the pelvic region. A transverse or horizontal incision is often preferred as it heals faster. Apart from this, the subcostal and Chevron incisions are made to treat the liver and the spleen.

3. What Can Be Treated or Diagnosed with Laparotomy?

Ans: Laparotomy provides access to the intra abdominal organs or space. Through laparotomy, the digestive tract ( stomach, duodenum, ileum, jejunum, and colon), the retroperitoneal organs ( kidneys, aorta, adrenal glands, and the lymph nodes ), the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, and the urinary bladder can be diagnosed and treated. In the case of males the prostate and for females the uterus and the ovary can also be treated with laparotomy. Laparotomy is extensively used by surgeons to treat abdominal disorders such as abdominal pain, abdominal trauma, peritonitis, abdominal infections, damaged or perforated intra abdominal organs. Laparotomy can also be used to check the spread of cancer or endometriosis in the abdominal regions.