Objective: To assess the feasibility and safety of laparoscopic liver resections.
Summary Background Data: The use of the laparoscopic approach for liver resections has remained limited for technical reasons. Progress in laparoscopic procedures and the development of dedicated technology have made it possible to consider laparoscopic resection in selected patients.
Methods: A prospective study of laparoscopic liver resections was undertaken in patients with preoperative diagnoses including benign lesion, hepatocellular carcinoma with compensated cirrhosis, and metastasis of noncolorectal origin. Hepatic involvement had to be limited and located in the left or peripheral right segments (segments 2–6), and the tumor had to be 5 cm or smaller. Surgical technique included CO2 pneumoperitoneum and liver transection with a harmonic scalpel, with or without portal triad clamping or hepatic vein control. Portal pedicles and large hepatic veins were stapled. Resected specimens were placed in a bag and removed through a separate incision, without fragmentation.
Results: From May 1996 to December 1999, 30 of 159 (19%) liver resections were included. There were 18 benign lesions and 12 malignant tumors, including 8 hepatocellular carcinomas in cirrhotic patients. Mean tumor size was 4.25 cm. There were two conversions to laparotomy (6.6%). The resections included 1 left hepatectomy, 8 bisegmentectomies (2 and 3), 9 segmentectomies, and 11 atypical resections. Mean blood loss was 300 mL. Mean surgical time was 214 minutes. There were no deaths. Complications occurred in six patients (20%). Only one cirrhotic patient developed postoperative ascites. No port-site metastases were observed in patients with malignant disease.
Conclusion: Laparoscopic resections are feasible and safe in selected patients with left-sided and right-peripheral lesions requiring limited resection. Young patients with benign disease clearly benefit from avoiding a major abdominal incision, and cirrhotic patients may have a reduced complication rate.