Background: With the growth and sophistication of laparoscopic surgery, increased attention is now being focused on safety and complications. Methods: In an attempt to address questions regarding the safety of laparoscopic surgery, a retrospective study of the time period from January 1991 to December 1995 was conducted by the Study Group of Endoscopic Surgery in Kyushu, Japan. Results: The response rate was 84.4% (152 of 180 hospitals). During the last 5 years 17,626 patients underwent endoscopic operations and 87.5% (15,422 patients) had laparoscopic surgery while 12.5% (2,204 patients) underwent thoracoscopic surgery. In 96.6% of the hospitals a minimal open laparotomy was used. Among the various operations, a cholecystectomy was performed in the largest number of patients (13,787). The total number of complications was 415 (2.7%), of which 156 (37.6%) were related to needle or trocar insertion. Visceral injury was found in 22 patients (0.14%): major vessel injury in 10, gastrointestinal tract injury in 11, and liver injury in one patient. Abdominal wall injury was seen in 79 patients (0.52%), bleeding in 70 (0.46%), and a hernia in 9 (0.06%). Extraperitoneal insufflation occurred in 55 patients (0.36%). There was no mortality. The complication rate significantly decreased year by year after the use of laparoscopic surgery began. Conclusions: The most common complications of laparoscopic surgery are related to needle and trocar insertion. These are preventable by placement under direct vision with verification of the intraperitoneal location of the needle and trocar.
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