Background: Open laparotomy has traditionally been required to stage hepatobiliary and pancreatic (HBP) cancers accurately. For unresectable patients, costs and morbidity have been high. Today, laparoscopy alone or combined with laparoscopic ultrasonography (LUS) is being examined for its value in defining the extent of malignancy. Study Design: We have analyzed the effect of routine implementation of this new staging technique in our HBP center. Staging laparoscopy (SL) with LUS was performed in 50 consecutive patients with HBP malignancies. All patients were considered to have resectable tumors as determined by traditional preoperative staging modalities. Primary tumors were located in the liver (n = 7), biliary tract (n = 11), or pancreas (n = 32). An average of 2.7 preoperative studies per patient were performed prior to SL-LUS. Results: Staging laparoscopy with laparoscopic ultrasonography predicted resectable tumors in 28 patients (56%). At laparotomy, 26 of 28 were actually resectable: the false-negative rate was 4%. Staging laparoscopy with laparoscopic ultrasonography indicated unresectability in 22 patients (44%). Staging laparoscopy alone demonstrated previously unrecognized occult metastases in 11 patients (22%). In 11 other patients (22%) in whom SL alone was negative, LUS established unresectability from vascular invasion (n = 5), lymph node metastases (n = 5), or intraparenchymal hepatic tumor (n = 1). All cases of unresectability due to vascular invasion were validated by laparotomy. Five of six lymph node or hepatic metastases were proved histologically by LUS-guided needle biopsy rather than laparotomy. Conclusions: Unnecessary laparotomy can be safely avoided by SL-LUS in many patients with HPB malignancies, reducing costs and morbidity.
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