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HPB (Oxford). 2005;7(3):204-7. doi: 10.1080/13651820510028819.

Diagnostic laparoscopy in the evaluation of the viral hepatitis patient with potentially resectable hepatocellular carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Bellevue Hospital/NYU School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA.



Despite significant recent improvements in liver imaging, preoperative evaluation of the potentially resectable patient with viral Hepatitis and Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) is often inaccurate. Diagnostic laparoscopy may change management for patients with under-appreciated nodular cirrhosis or intrahepatic metastases, preventing unnecessary open exploration. The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of routine laparoscopy as a separate procedure prior to resection in the evaluation of patients with potentially resectable HCC.


Patients with potentially resectable HCC were evaluated preoperatively with routine blood tests and axial imaging. All study patients also underwent diagnostic laparoscopy with laparoscopic ultrasonography. Laparoscopy was performed in an inpatient hospital setting, with 23 hour stays in most cases.


Among 65 patients evaluated with Hepatocellular Carcinoma between July 2001 and November 2003, 20 patients with potentially resectable disease were evaluated by diagnostic laparoscopy. All patients had viral Hepatitis: 16 with Hepatitis B and 4 with Hepatitis C. All study patients had cirrhosis; 18 classified as Child's-Pugh A and 2 as Child's-Pugh B. Diagnostic laparoscopy changed the management in 9/20 (45%) cases. Management was changed because of severe nodular cirrhosis in 4 cases, inaccurate assessment of intrahepatic metastases in 2 cases, inability to identify an HCC in 1 case, peritoneal carcinomatosis in 1 case, and inability to tolerate induction to general anesthesia in 1 case.


Diagnostic laparoscopy is useful in the evaluation of the potentially resectable patient with HCC. Information obtained from laparoscopy may change the clinical management in up to 45% of cases.

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