Laparotomy Surgery and When You Might Need it Done

Medical supplies

Laparotomy is the medical term that is given to just about any surgery that is preformed on the abdomen. It requires using the full size incision instead of the newer, minimally invasive procedures. The bigger incision is used to allow the surgeon to effectively see the necessary organs, blood vessels and tissues that he needs. The minimally invasive approach is called a laparoscopy. Whether a surgeon uses the laparoscopic technique or the more open approach depends on what he or she thinks that they may find during the actual surgery. If it is an emergency surgery, a laparotomy might be preferred because it can give a larger view of the problem area and it’s a faster procedure than going in laparoscopically. Usually, during the laparotomy, samples are taken of the tissue. This is called a biopsy and it helps to find any abnormal problems that need a diagnosis. These tissues are examined carefully in order to diagnose a condition.

Why would a person get a laparotomy?
If someone is having a lot of stomach pain and the reason why cannot be determined through MRIs or x-rays, then an exploratory laparotomy can be preformed. There are various things that can be found. For example, a blockage or a perforation in the intestine, cancer, any kind of trauma, cirrhosis of the liver, an ectopic pregnancy, inflammation and more. The open procedure can also be used to find out what stage an already diagnosed disease has progressed to.

>What is needed to preform a laparotomy?
There are a number of medical supplies needed for this procedure. The operating room should be equipped with anesthesia, lights, suctioning systems, various types of medical sponges, specifically a laparotomy sponge, necessary instruments on the standard tray. Besides the gloves and masks laparotomy sponges and scalpels and all the other obvious equipment, there should also be emergency equipment on hand just in case. There is low risk for this type of surgery but it’s a requirement should something unexpected happened, like with every surgery.

Are there any risks involved?
Every surgery comes with an element of risk. Common surgical risks are things like sudden bleeding, blood clots, complications with the anesthesia, prolonged healing, difficult breathing, injury during surgery or infection afterwards, paralysis or other poor results, scarring, numbness, infection and others. Along with that, specific to laparotomy surgeries, there is a risk or bowel blockages caused by adhesion and scar tissue formation internally. However, the risk level is relatively low.

How happens once a person goes in for the procedure?
Before the operation you will probably have your abdominal area shaved and be given a scrub lotion to use in the shower. After your shower you’ll be given a theater gown to wear. You may possibly be given an enema to help clear your bowel system. Laparotomy sponges are available to soak up fluids but solids can get in the way of the procedure. You will likely have to go through a pre surgery interview to make sure you don’t have any allergies and are fit for the operation. You’ll probably be told not to eat anything for 12 hours before surgery. You’ll be put under general anesthesia for the actual procedure. A single cut will be made through the skin and muscle of your stomach so that the organs can be carefully examined by the surgeon in order to diagnose a problem. Meanwhile, nurses and students will soak up extra fluids with laparotomy sponges and hold the abdomen open all the while monitoring your vitals. After the operation is done, everything will be sewn closed again.

How bad is the recovery?
You’ll be monitored for a day or two in the hospital to make sure that you don’t develop any post surgery complications. You may need a catheter for a little while and to receive fluids and nutrition through a tube in order to let your digestive system heal properly. Once you go home you’ll need to take care of your wound daily and observe the incision site. Resting is important once you get home. You should not be doing any heavy lifting for two weeks. Walking, however, is important to healing, just don’t over do it. You should feel normal again with four to six weeks.

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