Key Information

Cell type (very important), size of lesion/mass, presence of multiple involved nodes/areas, extension to adjacent tissues (organs, muscle, fascia), results of biopsies of distant sites.

  • Cytology Reports
  • Needle Biopsy
  • Biopsy, Other (Excisional)
  • Thoracentesis

Staging Laparotomy

Evaluation of the contents of the abdomen for the purpose of determining the extent of disease. A staging laparotomy is not routinely done for Hodgkin lymphoma, unless the opportunity for obtaining better staging information exceeds the risk of operative morbidity. An adequate staging laparotomy includes abdominal exploration, wedge and needle biopsies of the liver, multiple lymph node biopsies, bone marrow biopsy, and splenectomy. Staging laparotomy is considered a diagnostic procedure rather than surgical treatment. The staging laparotomy is an opportunity to identify landmarks within the abdomen, such as unresectable large nodes or the splenic pedicle, which will affect the design of radiation treatment for the patient. Precise staging is important for Hodgkin lymphoma and to a lesser extent non-Hodgkin lymphoma.


Surgical removal of the spleen. Splenectomy may occur as part of a full staging laparotomy or occasionally as a separate procedure. Unsuspected Hodgkin lymphoma is found in about 25% of splenectomy specimens.

Abdominal Washings

Bone marrow biopsy also called bone marrow aspiration. Aspiration of bone marrow cells to determine involvement by tumor. This procedure is optional in low stage cases. Bilateral bone marrow biopsies and aspirations should be done for higher stage and symptomatic cases.

Go to the Pathology page of the Diagnostic Tests module for more information.