This surgical procedure is considered part of a diagnostic work up for a problem in your pet.
We have likely done blood tests, xrays and an abdomen palpation and all things are pointing to a problem within the abdomen of your pet.
Other options may be referral for a scope or more likely an ultrasound ( scan) .
This can help identify some areas of organs as being more solid than normal indicating a possible tumor. In younger patients it may locate a foreign object that has been ingested. Each organ from kidney, liver, pancreas, gall bladder, and intestines is viewed, and any free fluid can be sampled (tapped).
This way the problem organ can be identified and we can rule out any spread to other organs before moving forward. Remember some things can NOT be seen very well on ultrasound and may need a special, more expensive, CT or MRI.
The ultrasound gives us more information and help owners decide if the next surgical option (ex lap) is warranted/practical.
EXPLORATORY LAPAROTOMY –
In some cases, when xrays are highly suggestive of a problem, or a mass can be palpated, owners may opt to go straight for ex laparotomy. During this procedure we can visualize all organs, take samples/biopsies if necessary, and if able, perform surgery to correct the problem, like for example….
remove a foreign object,
remove the spleen ( common site of tumor in large dogs) ,
remove cancer if operable or parts of the intestine with disease.
Some problems may be too severe or advanced, and involve or be attached to other organs so can NOT surgically be removed. In these cases the patient can be closed and woken up to spend their last days with their loving family, OR if quality is already fading they can be put to sleep while they are already anaestheized so they dont feel or know anything.
We hope this helps provide more information on your options and what to expect when making decisions at this difficult time.