Exploratory Laparotomy

Exploratory laparotomy is sometimes called exploratory surgery or just laparotomy. This surgery is performed through a larger incision, either a “bikini cut” at the top of the pubic hairline or through a midline incision from just above the pubic bone to just below the umbilicus (or belly button). The recovery from surgery performed at laparotomy is generally much slower than at laparoscopy.

It is unusual for Dr. Biggerstaff to perform a laparotomy, since most of his surgery is performed at laparoscopy or hysteroscopy. Reasons to perform a laparotomy include:

  • suspicion there may be cancer (or known cancer)
  • a very large mass in the pelvis either a fibroid (or fibroids) or an ovarian tumor
  • multiple prior surgeries which cause severe adhesions (scar tissue)
  • bleeding that cannot be controlled at laparoscopy
  • anticipated long operating time at laparoscopy

If surgery performed at laparoscopy lasts more than several hours, the benefits decrease and potential risks increase. Any surgery may be performed at laparotomy and is generally easier on the surgeon, but Dr. Biggerstaff realizes surgery done at laparoscopy is easier on the patient → less recovery time and quicker return to normal activity.