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A laparotomy is a surgical operation involving an incision through the abdominal wall. This is usually done so that the abdominal organs may be investigated. The term laparotomy does not denote a specific operation, but rather the way of exposing the organs of the abdomen as opposed to laparoscopy, where cameras are inserted into the abdomen via small holes in the abdomen. For example, an appendectomy can be done either by a laparotomy or by an laparoscopic access.

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