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.

Exploratory surgery at Wikipedia