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First successful major laparoscopic partial liver resection at Vienna's General Hospital

(Vienna 2nd November 2011) A team at the Medical University of Vienna, led by Klaus Kaczirek and Gerhard Prager from the University Department of Surgery at Vienna's General Hospital, has successfully carried out the first major partial liver resection via laparoscopy, a procedure which is less invasive than open surgery. This is the first liver resection of its kind in Vienna.

With laparoscopy the procedure is performed through a few small incisions. The instruments are introduced through the wall of the abdomen (“keyhole surgery”). The advantages for the patient of this minimally invasive surgical procedure compared to open surgery include quicker recovery and therefore a shorter stay in hospital, less pain, fewer adhesions, a quicker return to normal life and, thanks to the small size of the incisions, the risk of possible subsequent scar rupture is also minimal.

For smaller partial liver resections, this surgical method is already being used as standard at Vienna's General Hospital, however in this instance, the case involved the removal of the entire right half of the liver from a 64-year-old male patient with hepatocellular carcinoma. This procedure was the first of its kind ever performed at Vienna's General Hospital.

“It’s a pioneering achievement. The patient was able to go for a walk just one day after the procedure," says Klaus Kaczirek, expert in liver resections at the MedUni Vienna, who led the operation. “With open surgery, this would not be possible.” Laparoscopy is a technically very demanding method that is only used in a few centres worldwide. Kaczirek: “And not every patient is suitable; it depends on the patient’s physical condition and also on the location of the tumour.”

Around 150 partial liver resections are carried out at Vienna's General Hospital every year. Around 30 per cent of these are suitable for the new method. Says Kaczirek: “An additional advantage is that, as far as we are aware, the procedure has the same oncological outcome as open surgery, and therefore has equal success rates.”