Background: Retraction of either lobe of liver is required for surgical access to the respective organ. A novel liver retractor device and technique is described, which applies a vacuum between the liver and diaphragm to lift the liver, and which does not require additional incisions.
Methods: A novel liver retractor was tested in two anesthetized sheep at incrementally higher levels of suction from -100 to -700 mmHg (-13 to -93 kPa), and any signs of trauma were recorded. The animals recovered for 5 days, then were humanely killed and postmortem examination of the liver and diaphragms performed.
Results: Successful liver retraction was achieved from -200 to -600 mmHg (-27 to -80 kPa) suction. An imprint of the retractor was observed on the liver surface, but there was no breach of the liver serosa. Negligible ecchymoses were observed on the corresponding surface of the diaphragms. Both sheep recovered well after surgery. There was no macroscopic evidence of injury to the liver and diaphragm 5 days postoperatively. Histological examination revealed normal liver parenchyma deep to the site where the devices had been placed, and hemorrhagic changes within the serosa only varied between a few microns to a maximum of 1.4-mm depth.
Conclusions: The novel liver retractor described achieved an effective liver retraction without trauma. It has potential application in reduced or single-port laparoscopic upper abdominal surgery.