BACKGROUND: The major advantage of diagnostic laparoscopy for patients with a gastrointestinal tumor is the prevention of unnecessary explorative laparotomies. However, it is doubtful whether this procedure also prevents late laparotomies that are necessary for palliative treatment during follow-up. METHODS: From January 1992 to July 1995, 233 consecutive patients with gastrointestinal malignancies underwent laparoscopy and laparoscopic ultrasonography after routine diagnostic procedures had shown potential curative disease. RESULTS: After diagnostic laparoscopy, laparotomy was not performed in 21% of all patients (47 of 226) because of histologically proven, unresectable, mainly metastatic disease; 6% had esophageal tumors (4 of 64 patients), 43% had liver tumors (10 of 23), 43% had proximal bile duct tumors (9 of 21), 15% had periampullary tumors (17 of 111), and 43% had pancreatic body and tail tumors (3 of 7). Nonoperative palliation was successful in all patients. However, late laparotomies were necessary in 7 of these 47 patients (15%): 5 patients with periampullary tumors and 2 patients with proximal bile duct tumors. All 7 patients underwent a surgical bypass, most due to duodenal obstruction, 1 to 13 months after diagnostic laparoscopy. CONCLUSIONS: In this study, diagnostic laparoscopy may have prevented unnecessary laparotomies for exploration or palliation in 18% of all patients (40 of 226). The procedure is of doubtful benefit for patients with esophageal tumors because the current findings show that only 6% of explorative laparotomies could be prevented. In patients with periampullary tumors, the initial benefit was 15%, but the risk of a late laparotomy is relatively high (30%
To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.