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Exploratory surgery describes surgical procedures used for diagnostic purposes which require an open incision. It does not include procedures such as a biopsy, which do not require an open incision. It is used as a last resort when other symptoms indicate an underlying disease that cannot be detected by radiology or other non-invasive tests. This can include things like bleeding within the body and very small tumors. Exploratory surgery allows a physician to use both his or her eyes and sense of touch to detect an underlying condition.
Such surgical procedures require approval by the Food and Drug Administration.