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Ann Surg. 2011 Feb;253(2):342-8. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e3181ff4601.

Robotic-assisted laparoscopic anatomic hepatectomy in China: initial experience.

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Hospital and Institute of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Chinese PLA General Hospital, Chinese PLA Postgraduate Medical School, Beijing, China.



To assess the feasibility and safety of robotic-assisted laparoscopic anatomic hepatectomy.


The development of minimally invasive surgery has led to an increase in the use of laparoscopic hepatectomy. However, laparoscopic hepatectomy remains technically challenging and is not widely developed. Robotic surgery represents a recent evolution in minimally invasive surgery that is being used increasingly for complex minimally invasive surgical procedures. Herein, we report our initial experience with robotic-assisted laparoscopic anatomic hepatectomy in 13 consecutive patients.


Between April and July 2009, 13 consecutive patients underwent robotic-assisted laparoscopic anatomic hepatectomies for benign and malignant hepatic diseases. Major hepatectomies were performed in 9 patients, left lateral sectionectomies in 4 patients. Eight major hepatectomies were for malignant diseases and 5 hepatectomies (1 left hepatectomy and 4 left lateral sectionectomies) were for benign diseases. All the robotic-assisted hepatectomy procedures were performed anatomically with hilum dissection. Prior to starting the parenchymal transaction, vascular control of the portal vessels was carried out whenever possible. These robotic-assisted laparoscopic anatomic hepatectomies were compared with 20 traditional laparoscopic hepatectomies and 32 open resections that were contemporaneous and cohort-matched.


All 13 robotic-assisted laparoscopic anatomic hepatectomies were performed successfully in the manner of pure laparoscopic resection. No conversion to laparotomy or hand-assisted laparoscopic resection occurred. Despite its longer operative time (338 minutes) and higher hospital cost ($12,046), robotic liver surgery compared favorably with traditional laparoscopic hepatectomy and open resection in blood loss (280 vs. 350, 470 mL), transfusion requirement (0 vs. 3 of 20, 4 of 32), use of the Pringle maneuver (0 vs. 3 of 20, 6 of 32) and overall operative complications (7.8% vs. 10%,12.5%). Neither ascites nor transient hepatic decompensation occurred in the robotic group. The surgical margins in all 8 patients with malignant lesions were negative and as yet, no intrahepatic recurrences or metastases have been observed in the robotic group. The mean postoperative stay was shorter with the traditional laparoscopic procedure (5.2 days) than with robotic (6.7 days)or open surgery (9.6 days). Conversions from traditional laparoscopic to open and hand-assisted laparoscopic resection occurred in 2 patients (10.0%) who underwent right hemihepatectomy and left hepatectomy, respectively.


These preliminary results show that robotic-assisted laparoscopic anatomic hepatectomy is safe and feasible with a much lower complication and conversion rate than traditional laparoscopic hepatectomy or open resection. The robotic surgical system may broaden the indications for laparoscopic hepatactomy, and it enabled the surgeon to perform precise laparoscopic liver resection which required hylum dissection, hepatocaval dissection, endoscopic suturing, and microanastamosis. However, more long-term, evidence-based outcomes will be necessary to prove its efficacy, and further research on its cost-effectiveness is still required.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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