Decorative image


Find out what a laparotomy is and why you have it to stage ovarian cancer.

A laparotomy is done under general anaesthetic. Your surgeon makes a large cut down the middle of your abdomen so they can examine the inside of your abdomen and pelvis. They take samples of tissue and fluid to check for cancer. Sometimes a pathologist will look at these samples while you are still under anaesthetic.

If cancer cells are found, the surgeon may continue with the operation to remove as much of the cancer as possible. They will only do this part of the operation if you already agreed to this before surgery. 

Last reviewed: 
31 Mar 2016
  • Ovarian cancer: recognition and initial management

    The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines [CG122], April 2011

  • Newly diagnosed and relapsed epithelial ovarian carcinoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up

    J Ledermann and others; ESMO Guidelines Working Group

    Annals of Oncology. 2013 Oct;24 Suppl 6:vi24-32.

  • The Royal Marsden Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures. 9th Ed.

    Doughty L and Lister S (Eds) 

    Wiley Blackwell, 2015​

  • Principles and practice of oncology (10th edition)
    V De Vita and others
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2015

Information and help

Dangoor sponsorship

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.