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.