Laparoscopic hepatic resection is an emerging option in the field of hepatic surgery. With almost 3000 laparoscopic hepatic resections reported in the literature for benign and malignant tumors, with a combined mortality of 0.3% and morbidity of 10.5%, there will be an increasing demand for minimally invasive liver surgery. Multiple series have been published on laparoscopic liver resections; however, no randomized controlled trial has been reported that compares laparoscopic with open liver resection. Large series, meta-analyses, and reviews have thus far attested to the feasibility and safety of minimally invasive hepatic surgery for benign and malignant lesions.
The conversion rate from a laparoscopic approach to an open procedure was 4.1%. The most common type of laparoscopic liver resection performed is a wedge resection or segmentectomy (45%), followed by left lateral sectionectomy (20%). Major anatomic hepatectomies are still less frequently performed: right hepatectomy (9%) and left hepatectomy (7%). Cumulative morbidity and mortality was 10.5% and 0.3%.
BENEFITS OF LAPAROSCOPIC APPROACH
More importantly, almost all the studies comparing laparoscopic with open liver resection consistently showed a significant earlier discharge to home after laparoscopic liver resection. Lengths of stay were variable based on the country of origin of the studies but were consistently shorter for laparoscopic liver resection. Three studies published in the United States presented a length of stay of 1.9 to 4.0 days after laparoscopic liver resection. Studies from Europe showed an average length of stay of 3.5 to 10 days whereas those from Asia reported an average of length of stay of 4 to 20 days after laparoscopic liver resection.
Vanounou and colleagues used deviation-based cost modeling to compare the costs of laparoscopic with open left lateral sectionectomy at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. They compared 29 laparoscopic with 40 open cases and showed that patients who underwent the laparoscopic approach faired more favorably with a shorter length of stay (3 vs 5 days, P<.0001), significantly less postoperative morbidity (P 5 .001), and a weighted-average median cost savings of $1527 to $2939 per patient compared with patients who underwent open left lateral sectionectomy.
Initial concerns about the adequacy of surgical margins and possible tumor seeding prevented the widespread adoption of laparoscopic resection approaches for liver cancers. In comparison studies, there were no differences in margin-free resections between laparoscopic and open liver resection. In addition, no incidence of port-site recurrence or tumor seeding has been reported. With more than 3000 cases of minimally invasive hepatic resection reported in the literature (and no documentation of any significant port-site or peritoneal seeding), the authors conclude that this concern should not prevent surgeons from accepting a laparoscopic approach.
There were no significant differences in overall survival in the 13 studies that compared laparoscopic liver resection with open liver resection for cancer. For example, Cai and colleagues showed that the 1-, 3-, and 5-year survival rates after laparoscopic resection of HCC were 95.4%, 67.5%, and 56.2% versus 100%, 73.8%, and 53.8% for open resection. For resection of colorectal cancer liver metastasis, Ito and colleagues showed a 3-year survival of 72% after laparoscopic liver resection and 56% after open liver resection whereas Castaing and colleagues51 showed a 5-year survival of 64% after laparoscopic liver resection versus 56% after open liver resection.
Compared with open liver resections, laparoscopic liver resections are associated with less blood loss, less pain medication requirement, and shorter length of hospital stay. A randomized controlled clinical trial is the best method to compare laparoscopic with open liver resection; however, such a trial may be difficult to conduct because patients are unlikely to subject themselves to an open procedure when a minimally invasive approach has been shown feasible and safe in experienced hands. In addition, many patients would have to be accrued to detect a difference in complications that occur infrequently. Short of a large randomized clinical trial, meta-analysis and matched comparisons provide the next best option to compare laparoscopic with open liver resection. For laparoscopic resection of HCC or colorectal cancer metastases, there has been no difference in 5-year overall survival compared with open hepatic resection. In addition, from a financial standpoint, the minimally invasive approach to liver resection may be associated with higher operating room costs; however, the total hospital costs were offset or improved due to the associated shorter length of hospital stay with the minimally invasive approach.