Umbilical access in laparoscopic surgery in infants less than 3 months: A single institution retrospective review

J Pediatr Surg. 2022 Oct;57(10):277-281. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2021.11.010. Epub 2021 Nov 20.


Introduction: Umbilical access in laparoscopic surgery has been cited as a factor for increased complications in low-birth-weight infants and those less than three months old. In a previous series, 10.6% of pediatric surgeons reported complications in this population associated with umbilical access, citing carbon dioxide (CO2) embolism as the most common complication. To further examine the safety of this technique, we report our outcomes with blunt transumbilical laparoscopic access at our institution over four years.

Methods: A retrospective review was performed of patients less than three months of age who underwent laparoscopic pyloromyotomy or inguinal hernia repair from 2016 to 2019. Operative reports, anesthesia records, and postoperative documentation were reviewed for complications related to umbilical access. Complications included bowel injury, vascular injury, umbilical vein cannulation, CO2 embolism, umbilical surgical site infection (SSI), umbilical hernia requiring repair, and death.

Results: Of 365 patients, 246 underwent laparoscopic pyloromyotomy, and 119 underwent laparoscopic inguinal hernia repairs. Median age at operation was 5.9 weeks [4.3,8.8], and median weight was 3.9 kg [3.4,4.6]. Nine complications (2.5%) occurred: 5 umbilical SSIs (1.4%), 1 bowel injury upon entry requiring laparoscopic repair (0.2%), 1 incisional hernia repair 22 days postoperatively (0.2%), and 2 cases of hypotension and bradycardia upon insufflation that resolved with desufflation (0.5%). There were no intraoperative mortalities or signs/symptoms of CO2 embolism.

Conclusion: In this series, umbilical access for laparoscopic surgery in neonates less than three months of age was safe, with minimal complications. Although concern for umbilical vessel injury, cannulation, and CO2 embolism exists, these complications are not exclusively associated with umbilical access technique.

Keywords: CO(2) embolism; Laparoscopy; Umbilical access.

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Child
  • Hernia, Inguinal* / surgery
  • Hernia, Umbilical* / surgery
  • Herniorrhaphy / methods
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Laparoscopy* / adverse effects
  • Laparoscopy* / methods
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Carbon Dioxide