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Ann Surg. 1999 Apr;229(4):460-6.

Laparoscopic management of benign solid and cystic lesions of the liver.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles 90033, USA.



The authors present their experience in the laparoscopic management of benign liver disease. The aim of the study is to analyze technical feasibility and evaluate immediate and long-term outcome.


Indications for the laparoscopic management of varied abdominal conditions have evolved. Although the minimally invasive treatment of liver cysts has been reported, the laparoscopic approach to other liver lesions remains undefined.


Between September 1990 and October 1997, 43 patients underwent laparoscopic liver surgery. There were two groups of benign lesions: cysts (n = 31) and solid tumors (n = 12). Indications were solitary giant liver cysts (n = 16), polycystic liver disease (n = 9), hydatid cyst (n = 6), focal nodular hyperplasia (n = 3), and adenoma (n = 9). Only solid tumors, hydatid cysts, and patients with polycystic disease and large dominant cysts located in anterior liver segments were included. All giant solitary liver cysts were considered for laparoscopy. Patients with cholangitis, cirrhosis, and significant cardiac disease were excluded. Data were collected prospectively.


The procedures were completed laparoscopically in 40 patients. Median size was 4 cm for solid nodules and 14 cm for solitary liver cysts. Conversion occurred in three patients (7%), for bleeding (n = 2) and impingement of a solid tumor on the inferior vena cava (n = 1). The median operative time was 179 minutes. All solitary liver cysts were fenestrated in less than 1 hour. There were no deaths. Complications occurred in 6 cases (14.1%). Two hemorrhagic and two infectious complications were noted after management of hydatid cysts. There were no complications after resection of solid tumors. Three patients received transfusions (7%). The median length of stay was 4.7 days. Median follow-up was 30 months. There was no recurrence of solitary liver or hydatid cysts. One patient with polycystic disease had symptomatic recurrent cysts at 6 months requiring laparotomy.


Laparoscopic liver surgery can be accomplished safely in selected patients with small benign solid tumors located in the anterior liver segments and giant solitary cysts. The laparoscopic management of polycystic liver disease should be reserved for patients with a limited number of large, anteriorly located cysts. Hydatid disease is best treated through an open approach.

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