Endometriosis is a chronic and debilitating condition in which the endometrium, or the tissue lining the uterus, grows outside the uterus. Normally, the endometrium swells each month in preparation for a fetus. If no pregnancy occurs, the endometrial tissue breaks down and is expelled through menstruation.
In endometriosis, endometrial tissue grows elsewhere in the abdomen and its cells cannot be expelled through a monthly cycle of bleeding. This can result in pain, inflammation, and scarring.
What is a laparotomy?
Laparotomy is a type of surgery that requires incision to be made in the abdomen large enough to surgically remove lesions caused by endometriosis. Laparotomy is an alternative to laparoscopy, which uses small incisions and a telescope-like device to determine the location and extent of endometrial lesions.
The effectiveness of laparotomy is similar to that of laparoscopy, but the recovery time is longer. Laparotomy is usually required when a patient cannot be easily treated with laparoscopy.
How is the surgery performed?
Laparotomy is performed under general anesthesia and may require a stay in the hospital.
Patients will have to fast, usually for about six hours before the surgery. If the intestines must be resected to remove endometrial lesions, a purge may also be required.
During the surgery, a three- to four-inch incision is made in the abdomen, either horizontally (along the bikini-line) or vertically (from the navel to the pubic bone), allowing access to lesions caused by endometriosis.
What happens after surgery?
After the surgery is complete, patients will be given pain medication and antibiotics to prevent infection. Patients may need to stay in the hospital for two to four days to ensure there are no complications following surgery.
There will also be physical restrictions for four to six weeks. Usually, these restrictions include no bending, lifting, or extensive workouts. Swimming or tub bathing is discouraged, and patients should use sanitary pads instead of tampons during the recovery period.
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