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Surg Endosc. 2007 Aug;21(8):1344-8. Epub 2007 Feb 7.

Laparoscopic management of a nonobstetric emergency in the third trimester of pregnancy.

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Department of Surgery, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, 365 Hawthrone Avenue #101, Oakland, California 94609, USA.



Laparoscopic management of nonobstetric acute abdominal pain during pregnancy remains controversial. A gestational age of 26 to 28 weeks has been considered the upper limit for laparoscopy by some authors. A case series of nonobstetric surgery in advanced pregnancy is reported.


Third-trimester patients who underwent surgery between 1997 and 2006 were reviewed.


Laparoscopic surgery was performed for nonobstetric emergencies during the third trimester for 11 patients. Four patients underwent open surgery. The laparoscopic surgery group included five cholecystectomies, four appendectomies, and two adenexal surgeries. The laparoscopic surgery procedure was successfully completed for 10 patients. Of these 10 patients, 9 had no complications and went on to deliver a healthy term infant. One patient went into preterm labor after a laparoscopic appendectomy for perforated acute appendicitis with purulent peritonitis and delivered a viable infant at 34 weeks. Another patient at 29 weeks of gestation underwent a diagnostic laparoscopy for abdominal pain. Adenexal torsion of a large multicystic ovarian mass led to a laparotomy (obstetrician preference) and right salpingo-oophrectomy. Her postoperative course was complicated by an episode of sudden syncope, hypotension, and fetal distress on postoperative day 3. An emergent laparotomy showed hemoperitoneum attributable to bleeding from the ovarian pedicle. A cesarean section delivery of a preterm infant requiring neonatal resuscitation was performed. The open surgery group included four patients. Two of the patients underwent appendectomies at 35 and 33 weeks, respectively, followed by a term delivery. The remaining two patients underwent emergent colectomies with a cesarean section delivery at 31 and 38 weeks, respectively.


This study demonstrated that laparoscopic surgery in the third trimester of pregnancy is feasible and can be performed safely with an acceptable risk to the fetus and the mother. Access to the pregnant abdomen is easily obtained. Space generally is not a problem, and there is minimal uterine manipulation.

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