Softer Surgery for Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer surgery using laparoscopic techniques has advantages

(RxWiki News) Increasingly, surgeons are using specialized tools to perform operations. Laparoscopic surgery - sometimes called "minimally invasive surgery" - uses tiny tubes and cameras that help the surgeon have better visibility of and access to certain areas.

But is it better than traditional "open surgery?"

Laparoscopic surgery is a safe and reasonable option for pancreatic cancer patients. And this procedure offers a number of advantages over traditional surgical methods.

"Find out about the various surgical options open to you."

To learn if laparoscopic distal pancreatectomy (removal of part or all of the pancreas) was as safe as traditional or open surgical methods, a team of researchers performed a meta-analysis of recent studies comparing the two techniques. 

R. Venkat of The Johns Hopkins University Department of Surgery, led the work.

During laparoscopic surgery, small incisions of less than an inch are made and plastic tubes called ports are placed through these incisions. A video camera and instruments are then inserted through the ports. The surgeon can see view the surgical area on a high-definition monitor during the operation.

The team analyzed 18 studies that reviewed information on 1814 patients (43 percent laparoscopic, 57 percent open). Here's what these studies found:

  • Laparoscopic distal pancreatectomy (LDP) resulted in less blood loss.
  • Hospital stays were shortened by four days.
  • Post-surgical complications were significantly lower in the LDP group, compared to the traditional surgery - 33.9 vs. 44.2 percent.
  • LDP resulted in fewer wound infections - 2.9 vs 8.1 percent.
  • No difference was found in operative time, margin (area between healthy and diseased tissue), pancreatic fistula (leakage of fluids from the pancreas) and mortality.

Based on these results, researchers conclude, "The improved complication profile of LDP, taken together with the lack of compromise of margin status, suggests that this technique is a reasonable approach in selected cancer patients."

This research was published online April 16, 2012 in the Annals of Surgery.

No funding information or conflict of interest disclosures were publicly available.