What is exploratory laparotomy?

Exploratory Laparotomy

After an exploratory laparotomy: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You are short of breath.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You cannot pass stools or gas after your surgery.
  • You are sick to your stomach and cannot drink fluids.
  • You have loose staples or stitches, or your incision comes open.
  • You have signs of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • Bright red blood has soaked through the bandage over your incision.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

After exploratory laparotomy: Overview

An exploratory laparotomy is a surgery that allows a doctor to look inside your belly. Reasons for the surgery may include checking for injuries, finding out what's causing symptoms, seeing how far a disease like cancer has spread, and more.

After the surgery, you may feel weak and tired. You may be sick to your stomach. It's common to have some pain in your belly and around your cut (incision).

The pain should get better over the next few weeks. You may be able to go back to your usual activities in 2 to 4 weeks. Your bowel movements may not be regular for several weeks after the surgery.

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