Objectives: To assess the incidence of the complications in laparoscopic urologic procedures with regard to clinical presentation, etiology, and treatment.
Methods: From January 1994 to December 2000, 1085 laparoscopic procedures were performed at three institutions in 1075 patients (702 men, 373 women). A referent surgeon for laparoscopy was at each institution. The major procedures were radical prostatectomy (n = 232), different types of nephrectomy (n = 171) and nephroureterectomy (n = 15), adrenalectomy (n = 130), pyeloplasty (n = 61), pelvic lymph node dissection (n = 130), genitourinary prolapse repair (n = 86), bladder neck suspension (n = 104), and treatment of benign kidney pathologic findings (lithiasis, cysts, and diverticula, n = 55). The complications were listed by incidence and etiology according to the procedure attempted.
Results: A total of 75 complications (6.9%) occurred in this multi-institutional series. The mortality rate was 0.09%, and the conversion rate was 2.1%. Vascular (n = 7) and visceral injuries (n = 11) occurred in 24% of complications. Hematomas (n = 10), urinomas (n = 8), and wound infections (n = 7) at the trocar sites were the most frequent postoperative surgical complications. Pulmonary disorders (n = 9) and urinary infections (n = 9) were predominant in the postoperative medical problems.
Conclusions: Even though it appears to be minimally invasive, laparoscopy remains major surgery, with serious complications possible. These complications should be preventable with better mastery of the different steps of the procedures. Increased knowledge of the possible complications is essential for urologists in laparoscopic training and may help them improve their learning curve.