Purpose: The 4 most active centers of the laparoscopy working group of the German Urologic Association collected data about the complications associated with laparoscopic surgery in urology.
Materials and methods: At 4 centers 2,407 laparoscopies or retroperitoneoscopies were performed as of May 1998, including 776 for varicocelectomy, 259 for cryptorchidism, 481 for pelvic lymph node dissection, 351 for nephrectomy/heminephrectomy renal pathology, 139 for renal cyst resection, 58 for ureteral procedures, 44 for adrenalectomy, 41 for nephropexy, 41 for lymphocele fenestration, 40 for retroperitoneal para-aortic lymphadenectomy and 187 for other operations. The complications were evaluated, listed according to the anatomical specificity and grouped with respect to the surgical step during laparoscopy.
Results: A total of 107 complications (4.4%) occurred. The re-intervention rate was 0.8% and the mortality rate was 0.08%. The complication rate depended on the difficulty of the procedure and averaged 1.0, 3.9 and 9.2%, respectively, for easy, difficult and very difficult operations. The majority were vascular injuries (1.7%) and visceral lesions (1.1%) followed by complications of healing and infection (0.8%). Only 0.2% of complications was associated with the access technique (trocar insertion), whereas most occurred during dissection (2.9%). The complication rate was 13.3% for the first 100 procedures and subsequently averaged 3.6%.
Conclusions: Critical documentation of experience from several institutions, especially for an analysis of complications of urological laparoscopy, is important for the development of this surgical technique. The overall complication rate is comparable to other specialties. Future technical developments in trocar insertion, tissue dissection and control of bleeding with our improved training program will further reduce the complication rate.