Laparotomy for Pelvic Problems

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Topic Overview

A laparotomy is a type of surgery that allows the surgeon to look at the abdominal cavity through an incision in the abdomen. It may be used to diagnose and treat female pelvic conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, and ectopic pregnancy. It is usually done under general anesthesia.

Laparotomy is most often done:

  • When a person has a life-threatening condition that requires surgery right away. For example, it may be done for appendicitis or ectopic pregnancy.
  • When scarring (adhesions) or abnormal conditions make it hard to use laparoscopy to see inside the belly.
  • 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. It may also be done 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. While you are there, nurses will care for and observe you. You most likely will stay in the recovery area for 1 to 4 hours. Then you will be moved to a hospital room. Your nurse will give you any special instructions from your doctor and will explain information to help you during your recovery.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine

Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015

Current as of: February 20, 2015