Background/purpose: The aims of this study were to standardize the techniques of laparoscopic splenectomy (LS) to improve safety in liver cirrhosis patients with portal hypertension. Methods: From 1993 to 2008, 265 cirrhotic patients underwent LS. Child-Pugh class was A in 112 patients, B in 124, and C in 29. Since January 2005, we have adopted the standardized LS including the following three points: hand-assisted laparoscopic surgery (HALS) should be performed in patients with splenomegaly (1,000 mL), perisplenic collateral vessels, or Child-Pugh score 9 or more; complete division and sufficient elevation of the upper pole of the spleen should be performed before the splenic hilar division; and when surgeons feel the division of the upper pole of the spleen is too difficult, conversion to HALS should be performed. Results: There were no deaths related to LS in this study. After the standardization, conversion to open surgery significantly reduced from 11 (10.3%) of 106 to 3 (1.9%) of 159 patients (P < 0.05). The average operation time and blood loss significantly reduced from 259 to 234 min (P < 0.01) and from 506 to 171 g (P < 0.01), respectively. Conclusions: With the technical standardization, LS becomes a feasible and safe approach in the setting of liver cirrhosis and portal hypertension.
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