Laparoscopy and biopsy

You might have this small operation to check for signs of peritoneal mesothelioma and take samples (biopsies) of any abnormal areas.

Before your laparoscopy

You usually have an appointment before your laparoscopy to check that you’re fit enough for the procedure. A nurse weighs you and takes your blood pressure, pulse and temperature.

You might also have:

  • blood tests
  • a heart trace (ECG)
  • a chest x-ray

You can ask any questions you might have and sign the consent form.

Preparing for your laparoscopy

Tell your doctor if you’re taking medicine that changes how your blood clots. These medicines include:

  • aspirin
  • clopidogrel
  • arthritis medicines
  • warfarin or heparin
  • apixaban or rivaroxaban

Your doctor tells you if you need to stop your medicines or change the dose before the laparoscopy.

You can’t eat for 6 hours before the operation. You might be able to have water for up to 2 hours beforehand. The hospital staff will give you instructions about this.

Tell your doctor if not eating could be a problem for you, for example if you have diabetes.

What happens

You have a local anaesthetic and a medicine to make you drowsy.

The doctor makes a small cut in your tummy (abdomen). They put a laparoscope, which is a tube with a camera and light, through the cut and into your abdomen. The doctor may use either an ultrasound or CT scan for guidance. Then they look inside to see if there are any signs of cancer.

The doctor takes biopsies of any abnormal looking areas. These are sent to the laboratory for examination under a microscope.

You have a small wound with a couple of stitches. Sometimes the camera is put in through more than one cut. So you might have more than one wound.

Possible risks

Most people won’t have problems from this type of operation. Your doctor makes sure the benefits of having it outweigh the risks, which include:

  • a wound infection – this is treated with antibiotics
  • bleeding during or after surgery – you might need a blood transfusion or another operation
  • a blood clot in your legs (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) – you get up shortly after your operation to reduce the risk of blood clots
  • a small hole (perforation) in your bowel wall – this is extremely rare and is treated with antibiotics and fluids through a drip, or surgery to repair the hole

Your nurse will tell you what to look out for. They’ll also give you a number to contact if you have any problems.

When to contact your GP

Contact your GP or the hospital if you have:

  • a high temperature or feel unwell
  • redness or swelling around your wound or it’s leaking fluid
  • pain in your abdomen that is getting worse
  • pain or swelling in one or both legs

Getting your results

You should get your results within 1 or 2 weeks. The doctor may be able to let you know if they have seen any abnormal areas that have been sent to the laboratory.

Waiting for results can make you anxious. Ask your doctor or nurse how long it will take to get them.

Contact the doctor who arranged the test if you haven’t heard anything after a couple of weeks.

You might have contact details for a specialist nurse and you can contact them for information if you need to. It can help to talk to a close friend or relative about how you feel.

For information and support, you can also call the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Last reviewed: 
08 Jun 2021
Next review due: 
08 Jun 2024
  • The Royal Marsden Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures. 9th Ed.

    Doughty L and Lister S (Eds).

    Wiley Blackwell, 2015.

Related links