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Chapter 9: Exploratory Celiotomy (Laparotomy)

Chapter 9: Table of Contents

Chapter 9: Exploratory Celiotomy (Laparotomy)

Abdominal exploration can be performed with diagnostic and/or therapeutic intent. Exploratory laparotomy is often performed as a diagnostic test – if negative, one should at the very least biopsy relevant organs before leaving the abdominal cavity! 

Abdominal Incision

Abdominal exploration is performed through a ventral midline incision along the linea alba. Always clip and prepare the skin from one to two inches cranial to the xiphoid to the level of the pubis to allow a long enough incision to be made; exposure is everything! Clip at least as wide as the mammary chain but clip wider if you anticipate placing a drain or a feeding tube. A true abdominal exploration is performed through an incision that extends from the xiphoid to just cranial to the pubis in females and from xiphoid to mid-prepuce (with a parapreputial incision) in males. If the lower urinary tract is the focus of the exploration, the initial incision can extend from just above the umbilicus (or more cranially) to the level of the pubis (in males and females).  

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