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Laparoscopic Surgery on Pancreas Has Fewer Complications

Patients had less blood loss, shorter hospital stays, study finds

FRIDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- Minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery to remove pancreatic tumors or cysts leads to fewer complications and shorter hospital stays, a U.S. study finds.

In laparoscopic surgery, doctors make smaller incisions than in traditional surgery and monitor their progress with fiber optics and video cameras. This less invasive method is widely accepted for gallstone removal, weight loss surgery and repair of stomach valves.

The researchers examined more than 660 left pancreatectomies -- where part but not all of the pancreas is removed -- conducted from 2002 and 2006. About one-quarter of those operations were done using laparoscopy.

Overall, complications occurred in about half the operations, including about one-sixth that involved a leak of pancreatic fluid. Compared to standard surgery, laparoscopy resulted in fewer complications (57 percent vs. 40 percent). Patients who had the laparoscopic procedure also had less blood loss and spent three fewer days in hospital (six vs. nine).

The findings were to be presented at a meeting of the American Surgical Association in New York.

"Data on patient outcomes has been scarce when it comes to extending this approach to the surgical care of other organs," study author Dr. David Kooby, assistant professor of surgical oncology at Emory University School of Medicine and the Emory Winship Cancer Institute, said in a prepared statement.

"Still, more surgeons and institutions are doing these procedures, and more patients and referring doctors are requesting them. Our study shows that this approach is not only viable but may be preferable for the pancreas," Kooby said.

More information

The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia has more about laparoscopic surgery.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Emory University, news release, April 25, 2008

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