Background: Cirrhosis of the liver contributes significantly to morbidity and mortality in abdominal surgery. The proven benefits of laparoscopy seem especially applicable to patients with this complex disease. This study evaluates the safety and efficacy of laparoscopic procedures in a series of consecutively treated patients with biopsy-proven cirrhosis.
Methods: The medical records of all patients with biopsy-proven cirrhosis undergoing laparoscopic surgery at the authors' medical center between January 2000 and December 2003 were retrospectively reviewed.
Results: A total of 50 patients (27 men and 23 women) underwent 52 laparoscopic procedures. Among these 50 patients were 39 patients with Child-Pugh classification A cirrhosis, 10 with classification B, and 1 with classification C, who underwent a variety of laparoscopic procedures including cholecystectomy (n = 22), splenectomy (n = 18), colectomy (n = 4), diagnostic laparoscopy (n = 3), ventral hernia repair (n = 1), Nissen fundoplication (n = 1), Heller myotomy (n = 1), Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (n = 1), and radical nephrectomy (n = 1). There were two conversions (4%) to an open procedure. The mean operative time was 155 min. Estimated blood loss averaged 124 ml for all procedures, and 20 patients (40%) required perioperative transfusion of blood products. One patient required a single blood transfusion postoperatively because of anemia. No one experienced hepatic decompensation. Overall morbidity was 16%. There were no deaths. The mean length of hospitalization was 3 days.
Conclusions: Although technically challenging because portal hypertension, varices, and thrombocytopenia frequently coexist, basic and advanced laparoscopic procedures are safe for patients with mild to moderate cirrhosis of the liver.