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Abdominal Explore

Why would this be indicated?

Abdominal exploratory laparotomy is commonly performed when there is dysfunction or trauma involving the abdominal cavity and a definitive diagnosis is not found. Exploring the abdomen surgically is an invaluable diagnostic tool – it provides information through inspection and palpation and samples can be obtained for microbiological, cytological and/or histopathological examination. At the time of exploring certain conditions can be definitively diagnosed and an estimated prognosis can be made. Some conditions may also be surgically treated immediately.


Specific aftercare will depend on whether additional surgical procedures are performed.

  • Patients recovering from an abdominal exploratory laparotomy will spend on average of one to two days in hospital before being discharged to the care of their owner.
  • Restricted activity for 14 days. Short leash walks only to go to the bathroom (if applicable). No running, jumping or rough plays during this time.
  • Patient is monitored closely for the first week for reduced appetite, abdominal pain and swelling, lethargy, fever and vomiting.
  • Pain medications are common prescriptions following surgery.
  • An Elizabethan (E) collar (“cone”) is provided and must be worn at all times to prevent self-trauma of the surgical site. A loose fitting breathable T-shirt or post-surgical onesies may also be considered.
  • Daily monitoring of the surgical site. Complications include oozing, a foul smell, swelling or pain at the surgical site. A bandage may be applied to the surgical site to be kept on for the first day (and removed thereafter) after surgery to minimize leaking from the incision.


Complications will depend on whether additional procedures were performed and can include but not limited to:

  • Wound dehiscence
  • Infection
  • Seroma