Today, both doctors and patient prefer minimally invasive procedures as compared to traditional open surgery. Such procedures are also known as laparoscopic procedures or keyhole surgeries. This procedure involves making a small incision through which a long, flexible tube is passed. The end that enters the body has a powerful light and a camera through which the surgeon can view the internal organs. To facilitate movement of the tube, carbon dioxide gas may also be pumped into the abdominal cavity. In case an organ needs to be operated upon, other incisions will also be made through which surgical instruments can be used.
Liver cancer is one of the conditions that can benefit from laparoscopic procedures. Laparoscopy can be used to diagnose liver cancer and determine the stage it has reached and to treat it accordingly. In order to confirm a liver cancer diagnosis, the surgeon will look for the presence of tumors in the lymph nodes and surface of the liver. In addition, tissue samples will also be collected. These will be sent to a lab to be biopsied in order to determine whether the tumor is malignant or benign.
Once a diagnosis is confirmed, surgery to remove the tumor is the most recommended form of treatment. This may be followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Small malignant tumors on the left lateral segment of the liver or anterior segment on the right side of the liver can be safely removed with laparoscopic procedures. Laparoscopy can also be used to remove multiple tumors on the liver. However large tumors and tumors that are located close to the suprahepatic junction or portal bifurcation should not be addressed laparoscopically. Laparoscopy may also be avoided if the patient has undergone open resectional procedures earlier that may have caused dense adhesions. In such cases, open surgery is preferred. However, even these procedures may be preceded by a laparoscopic exploratory procedure that allows the surgeon to get a clearer view of the tumor.
As compared to open surgery, laparoscopic surgery has a number of advantages. These include:
As with any other procedure, the skill of a surgeon plays an important role in the success of the procedure. In the case of laparoscopic procedures, this skill is critical. Hence, laparoscopic surgeries of the treatment of liver cancer are not very common.