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Laparotomy is a surgical procedure that is done by making an incision in the lower abdomen. This allows the surgeon to see and inspect the abdominal cavity for structural problems, sites of endometriosis (implants), and scar tissue (adhesions). The surgeon can then remove implants and adhesions. The surgeon can also correct structural problems that interfere with an organ's normal function, such as removing adhesions from the bowel wall.
Many of the procedures that required a laparotomy in the past can now be done with laparoscopy, which uses a smaller incision. Ask your surgeon why laparotomy is required.
Laparotomy is a likely treatment for moderate to severe chronic female pelvic pain when:
A laparotomy is usually required to remove:
Surgery for chronic female pelvic pain should be limited to the treatment of surgically correctable problems. There is no evidence that surgical removal of the reproductive organs relieves chronic pelvic pain.1
Laparotomy may be needed when scar tissue binds abdominal organs, impairing their function. But a laparotomy may cause more scar tissue to form.
It is important that your surgeon understands your treatment goals. Be sure you discuss your goals, such as the desire for future pregnancies. If fertility is not your primary treatment goal, a decision could be made to remove one or both ovaries, one or both fallopian tubes, or the uterus during a laparotomy.
Last Revised: October 30, 2012
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