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Laparotomy (Open Tubal Ligation)


Updated June 30, 2014

Definition: A laparotomy procedure (open tubal ligation) is considered to be major surgery, so it is less commonly used than laparoscopy and/or mini-laparotomy. This procedure requires general or regional anesthesia. Your surgeon will make a larger incision (2 to 5 inches) in the abdomen. The fallopian tubes will then be pulled up into or out of the incision, closed off (tied, clipped, or sealed shut) with a device, and put back into place. The incision will be stitched shut.

A woman may need to be hospitalized for 2 to 4 days after a laparotomy, and it could take several weeks to fully recover. If the laparotomy procedure is done after delivery, a woman's hospital stay may be extended by 1 or 2 days.

An open tubal ligation is usually performed right before or after some other type of unrelated abdominal surgery, such as a Cesarean section. If you are having a c-section delivery, your surgeon can perform the laparotomy in just a few extra minutes while you are still under anesthesia and your abdomen is still open.

In addition to having abdominal surgery for other reasons, a laparotomy may be recommended if you have or have had pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis, or previous abdominal or pelvic surgery. These conditions can often cause abdominal tissue and organs to scar or stick together (adhesion). A laparotomy tubal ligation may also be necessary if a woman:

  • Has had prior abdominal surgery
  • Is significantly overweight
  • Has had infections that have left adhesions or scar tissue in the abdomen
  • Has had certain medical or gynecological problems
All of these conditions may make one of the other tubal ligation procedures more difficult and risky.

Pronunciation: Laparotomy: lap·a·rot·o·my (lăp'ə-rŏt'ə-mē)
Also Known As: Open tubal ligation, laparotomy tubal, tubal ligation, tubes tied, open tubal, female sterilization
A laparotomy, or open tubal ligation, is done to permanently prevent a woman from becoming pregnant; because of this, a laparotomy is considered to be a permanent birth control method.

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