Major retroperitoneal vascular injuries during laparoscopic cholecystectomy and appendectomy

J Laparoendosc Adv Surg Tech A. 2004 Apr;14(2):73-6. doi: 10.1089/109264204322973826.


Background: Serious complications may occur during laparoscopic surgery, as in any surgical procedure. Injuries of major retroperitoneal vascular structures are uncommon but important complications of laparoscopy.

Methods: We report on 9 major vascular injuries in 8 patients in the course of 8 laparoscopic procedures between 1994 and 2002.

Results: The primary operations were cholecystectomy in 7 patients and appendectomy in one patient. Six vascular injuries occurred during placement of the first umbilical trocar, two in the course of the insertion of a Veress needle, and one during the insertion of the second trocar. A laparotomy was performed immediately in all cases. Left common iliac arteries were injured in two patients, aorta in three patients, right common iliac vein in one patient, both right common iliac artery and vein in one patient, and inferior vena cava in one patient. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) graft interposition was employed in two common iliac arteries and a tubular PTFE graft in one aortic injury, and Dacron patchplasty in one common iliac artery injury. Two aortic, two common iliac vein, and an inferior vena cava injury were repaired primarily. There were also four visceral organ injuries, which were repaired primarily. The major retroperitoneal vascular complication rate was 0.07%. An average of 3.5 units of whole blood were transfused in each case and the average stay in hospital was 6.8 days. There was no mortality.

Conclusions: The surgeon's experience and knowledge are the essential factors for prevention of major vascular injuries during laparoscopic procedures. In case of an injury, immediate laparotomy must be performed to achieve hemostasis and a surgeon who is familiar with vascular surgery should employ the definitive treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aorta, Abdominal / injuries*
  • Aorta, Abdominal / surgery
  • Appendectomy / methods
  • Cholecystectomy, Laparoscopic / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iliac Artery / injuries*
  • Iliac Artery / surgery
  • Iliac Vein / injuries*
  • Iliac Vein / surgery
  • Intraoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Laparoscopy / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene
  • Vena Cava, Inferior / injuries*
  • Vena Cava, Inferior / surgery


  • Polytetrafluoroethylene