Background: The role of diagnostic laparoscopy in the staging of abdominal malignancies is not well defined. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the usefulness of diagnostic laparoscopy as a staging procedure in pancreatic malignancy. This experience between February 1988 and May 1997 involves 109 cases of suspected or proven pancreatic malignancy. All laparoscopies were performed with the patient under conscious sedation and local anesthesia in an endoscopy suite. Results: Of the 109 patients with pancreatic cancer, 45 (42%) had metastatic disease. The use of computed tomography (CT) alone revealed the existence of liver metastases in 10 of 109 (9%) patients, which were confirmed laparoscopically. The further use of laparoscopy identified metastases in 29 more cases: hepatic, 23; hepatic and peritoneal, 3; peritoneal and mesenteric, 1; and mesenteric, 2. CT in conjunction with laparoscopy therefore revealed metastatic liver, peritoneal, or mesenteric lesions in 39 of 109 (36%) patients with pancreatic cancer. After staging laparoscopy, 67 of 69 patients underwent laparotomy. Metastatic disease was identified at laparotomy in 6 more patients; however, only 4 of these patients had metastases to the liver whereas 2 had metastases to the peripancreatic lymph nodes. Therefore, in patients with pancreatic malignancy, the negative predictive value for the diagnosis of metastases to the liver, peritoneum or mesentery was 94% (61 of 65 patients). The positive predictive value of laparoscopy alone for the detection of metastatic disease to the liver, peritoneum, or mesentery was 88% (29 of 33 patients). Laparoscopy was successfully performed without complications in all patients with pancreatic cancer; however, one had a technically unsatisfactory examination. The overall rate of resectability after staging by imaging studies and laparoscopy was 57% (35 of 61 patients). Conclusions: In patients with a negative CT for metastases, laparoscopic identification of metastases avoided unnecessary laparotomy in 29 of 99 (29%) patients with pancreatic cancer. Staging laparoscopy is indicated in all cases of pancreatic malignancy before an attempt at a surgical cure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging