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 What are abdominal "washings" done during surgery?


 What are abdominal "washings" done during surgery?

 Nickie K., Michigan, USA: Peritoneal "washings" are done as part of most abdominal surgeries. Basically, their purpose is to "wash out" and suction up any extra blood and fluid that is in the abdominal cavity.

During cancer surgery, a sample of those fluids is sent to the pathologists who check for cancerous or other abnormal cells. If such cells are found, medical terminology describes them as "positive peritoneal cytology", which also means disease spread outside the organs (uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries).

This spread can occur in one of two ways: direct disease extension through the organ, or, as in the case of my mom, cancerous cells "backwashed" into her abdomen, much like endometriosis.

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Last modified 06/23/2004