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Less Invasive Liver Surgery Technique Easier On Patient, Equally As Safe As Traditional Surgery Method, Study Says

Patients Have Smaller Scar and Recover Faster

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons shows that less invasive laparoscopic-assisted liver surgery performed at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is easier on the patient and is just as safe and effective as traditional liver surgery (also called open hepatic resection or OHR).

"We started doing the laparoscopic-assisted liver resection (LAHR) back in 2007 for our living liver transplant donors," said Lynt B. Johnson, M.D., chief of surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. "We wanted to make it easier on these donors and what we saw was a better cosmetic result, quicker release from the hospital and faster recovery time."

The study, published in the April 2012 issue of JACS, compared 193 patients who either had the standard open surgical procedure or the newer LAHR between March 2004 and July 2011. 

During this time 106 patients had the traditional surgery while 87 underwent LAHR. They analyzed the duration of the operations, estimated blood loss, complications and the length of stay in the hospital.

The findings showed that the operation time was about the same in both groups; blood loss was slightly less and complications were slightly fewer in the laparoscopic group.

"The most notable difference between the two groups of patients was their length of stay in the hospital," said Dr. Johnson. "Those having the laparoscopic procedure went home about a day and a half earlier than those who had the standard surgery. We also saw that the laparoscopic group has less pain after surgery."

To perform the laparoscopic-assisted liver surgery procedure the surgeon makes two small cuts for the laparoscopic tools used to visualize and move the liver as needed. A final incision, about the size of the wrist, is made for the surgeon's hand. He then uses his hand and the laparoscopic tool to remove the desired portion of the liver.

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