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Exploratory Laparotomy in the Dog & Cat

Lysimachos G. Papazoglou, DVM, PhD, MRCVS, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece

Eleni Basdani, DVM, PhD, Bessy's Klinik, Zurich, Switzerland

Surgery, Soft Tissue

|October 2015|Peer Reviewed

Exploratory laparotomy is routinely performed in small animal practice and is indicated when organ dysfunction or trauma involving the abdominal cavity requires definitive diagnosis along with surgical treatment and prognosis.1 Surgical exploration provides information through inspection, palpation, and/or hollow organ luminal mucosa observation. Samples can be obtained for microbiologic and cytologic examination or biopsy for histopathologic examination. Abdominal exploration should be performed in a timely manner to increase the likelihood of successful diagnosis and management without negatively affecting the patient.

A ventral midline laparotomy of adequate length from xiphoid to the pubis is the standard approach to explore the entire abdominal cavity in a systematic manner.

A ventral midline laparotomy of adequate length from xiphoid to the pubis is the standard approach to explore the entire abdominal cavity in a systematic manner. Every surgeon may develop his or her own technique, but a suggested method includes exploring the cranial quadrant (diaphragm; liver, gallbladder, and biliary tree; spleen and stomach; duodenum and pancreas), caudal quadrant (jejunum, ileum, and colon; urinary bladder; urethra and prostate or uterus), right paravertebral region by retracting the mesoduodenum, and left paravertebral region by retracting the mesocolon (kidneys, adrenal glands, ureters, and ovaries).2

What You Will Need

Clinician's Brief
  1. Surgical bowl
  2. Bulb syringe for irrigation
  3. Laparotomy pads
  4. 4 x 4” (10.2 cm x 10.2 cm) gauze sponges
  5. Monopolar diathermy cable
  6. Suction tube
  7. Poole suction tip
  8. Babcock tissue forceps
  9. Allis tissue forceps
  10. No 15 and 10 scalpel blades
  11. Bard Parker scalpel handle
  12. Backhaus towel clamps
  13. Curved and straight Metzenbaum scissors
  14. Straight Mayo scissors
  15. Balfour retractors
  16. Debakey tissue forceps
  17. Rat-tooth thumb forceps
  18. Mayo-Hegar needle holders
  19. Straight and curved Rochester-Carmalt hemostatic forceps
  20. Straight and curved mosquito hemostatic forceps


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