Surgical biopsies, unlike needle biopsies which are less invasive, are referred to as “open” procedures. This form of biopsy is typically performed when the needle biopsy or other minimally invasive procedures are found to be inconclusive or those procedures are considered to be unsafe.

Occasionally, it is possible for the needle biopsy procedure to be contraindicated, or withheld, because the procedure is not advisable. For example, when fluid pockets are located in inaccessible areas or if the CT scan indicates that less invasive procedures are unsafe, it is likely that a surgical procedure will be recommended. The following are a series of the most common forms of surgical biopsies that are used in the diagnosis of mesothelioma.


This type of surgical biopsy is used when the patient begins to demonstrate symptoms of mesothelioma, has a history of exposure to asbestos, and have received results from previous tests that indicate that there is apparent cytology.


The thoracotomy is also considered to be an open surgical procedure. During this operation, an incision is made within the wall of the chest so that the surgeon is able to examine the lung area and obtain a sample of tissue for additional testing. This is used in order to determine whether any abnormalities are present in the tissue and whether a diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma is appropriate.


The laparoscopy is a procedure which is assisted by video and allows the surgeon to examine the organs that are present in the abdomen. A biopsy is then performed to see whether abnormal tissue is present, indicating a diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma.


This form of surgery is very similar to the thoracotomy procedure except for the fact that the incision is made in the abdomen. This permits the surgeon to examine fluids and tissues which are present in the peritoneum. This procedure is used to determine whether the patient has peritoneal mesothelioma.


This procedure is typically used in order to aid in diagnosis and help determine the staging of the patient’s cancer. The procedure’s results will be used in order to diagnose an appropriate treatment course of action. For example, if the lymph nodes are found to be cancerous, surgery would not be recommended because the disease would already be at an advanced stage.

It is often difficult to diagnose mesothelioma. The build-up of fluid within the abdomen, heart regions, or chest is not the only requirement of a mesothelioma diagnosis. Even tissue samples that are taken for biopsy are not always conclusive because cancerous cells resulting from mesothelioma are similar to other cancer forms.


American Cancer Society

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