The approach to staging patients with Hodgkin's disease has changed over the last 20 years. Although careful physical examination, chest radiograph, and bipedal lymphangiogram remain the mainstays of the clinical evaluation, computed tomography (CT) scanning of the chest and abdomen is rapidly gaining acceptance as a useful ancillary procedure. In addition, the initial enthusiasm for the staging laparotomy and splenectomy as a necessary part of the staging evaluation is now coming into question. Recent studies raise legitimate concerns about this procedure's overall impact upon survival as well as the potential long-term consequences of splenectomy. Select situations do exist, however, where a staging laparotomy remains appropriate. An approach to the staging of newly diagnosed Hodgkin's disease is suggested and supported by recent studies of this disease.
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