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Mesothelioma Diagnosis: Laparoscopy

Laparoscopy is a minimally-invasive surgical technique that is performed through a small incision in the abdomen.  A laparoscope, a flexible tube which houses a microchip camera and fiber optic light, is used during these procedures.  Two incisions are made — one for the laparoscope and another initially used to inflate the abdomen with carbon dioxide gas.  This allows the abdominal wall to separate from the organs, giving the surgeon much needed room to maneuver.


The purpose of a laparoscopy is to view abdominal structures in a minimally-invasive manner. This procedure has numerous benefits for patients, such as a decrease in complications, pain, hospital stays and recovery time.  A laparoscopy can be used in the identification and staging of peritoneal mesothelioma, as well as for removal of tissues and some types of tumors.

Laparoscopy and Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common form of malignant mesothelioma. In this form of the disease, the mesothelioma affects the peritoneum, which is the lining of the abdomen.  If a doctor suspects peritoneal mesothelioma, he or she may order a laparoscopy to inspect for internal signs of the disease and to take a biopsy of the affected area.  These is some evidence to suggest that laparoscopy may be more effective than magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT) in identifying the spread of cancers in the stomach, although research continues on this important topic.


Patients should not eat or drink after midnight on the night before surgery.  Doctors should be notified of any and all allergies and medications being used.


Laparoscopy is performed in a hospital while the patient is under anesthesia.  For diagnosis and biopsy, a local anesthesia is used.  For surgical procedures, a general anesthesia is used.  A catheter is inserted through the urethra to empty the bladder, and the skin of the abdomen is cleaned before starting.

During the procedure, a hollow needle is inserted into the patient’s abdomen near the navel and carbon dioxide gas is used to expand the abdomen.  This allows the abdominal wall to move away from the organs.  A laparoscope is then inserted through the incision for an internal visual inspection of the abdomen. Additional incisions may be made to allow surgical tools to be inserted, if needed.


There is a small chance of problems from a laparoscopy, although modern techniques have reduced their occurrence. Some of these risks include bleeding from the incisions, infection, and surgical damage to an organ or blood vessel that may require subsequent repair.

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