What Is Omental Cake?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
A biopsy may be conducted to learn more about the nature of thickening in the greater omentum.
A biopsy may be conducted to learn more about the nature of thickening in the greater omentum.

Omental cake is a radiological finding indicative of thickening in the greater omentum, an important part of the peritoneum, the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity. It can be a sign of metastasis or other disease. Care providers may recommend a biopsy to learn more about the nature of the thickening and determine what, if any, action might be appropriate. Patients with this warning sign can discuss the implications with their doctors to learn more about the situation and how to proceed.

A pathologist can analyze a sample of the thickened area to determine if cancer is a possibility.
A pathologist can analyze a sample of the thickened area to determine if cancer is a possibility.

The greater omentum consists of folded peritoneum which stores fat and plays a role in some immune processes. When omental cake forms, it means soft tissue has invaded the fat, which will change its appearance on medical imaging studies. Thickening may also occur, enlarging the greater omentum. It may be possible to see lesions in the abdomen which could provide important clues into the cause of the changes. For example, signs of tumors could be present.

When omental cake is discovered through medical imaging scans, further tests must be done to find the cause.
When omental cake is discovered through medical imaging scans, further tests must be done to find the cause.

Unusual radiological findings are not necessarily an immediate cause for concern, because they need to be put in context. A radiologist may recommend a repeat test, possibly using different equipment or a new angle, to confirm the findings. What appears to be omental cake might be an artifact on the film, for example, or the result of poor image processing. Radiologists can also consider patient history. In a patient with a history of uterine cancer, for example, this condition might not be an unexpected finding.

In a biopsy, a surgeon can take a small sample from the area of interest, using the scans for guidance to locate the area of greatest buildup. A pathologist can review the samples in a lab to learn more about the origins of the omental cake. Tumor cells, for example, can be traced to determine where they started growing, which can be critical for the development of a treatment plan. The pathologist may ask to see the scans to learn more about the nature of the situation.

Treatment options after finding the thickening depend on what is causing it. Patients may need surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to address cancers of the abdomen, for example. Once cancers start to metastasize to the peritoneum they can be much more difficult to treat, but they are not necessarily fatal. Outcomes can depend on the specific cancer, the patient’s medical history, and overall level of health.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

Raynbow

@ocelot60- I agree with you completely. My grandmother received this diagnosis several years ago. Today she is healthy and happy. I believe that her positive attitude played a big role in her quick recovery.

Ocelot60

Health care providers often refer to a omental cake as a mass or abnormality when found. Though the finding may seem scary and overwhelming, stressing about it until you get a thorough diagnosis will do you no good. Chances are, it will be treatable anyway.

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    • A biopsy may be conducted to learn more about the nature of thickening in the greater omentum.
      A biopsy may be conducted to learn more about the nature of thickening in the greater omentum.
    • A pathologist can analyze a sample of the thickened area to determine if cancer is a possibility.
      A pathologist can analyze a sample of the thickened area to determine if cancer is a possibility.
    • When omental cake is discovered through medical imaging scans, further tests must be done to find the cause.
      When omental cake is discovered through medical imaging scans, further tests must be done to find the cause.