Benign and malignant tumors of the liver often need to be either surgically removed or ablated (destroyed) by cryotherapy (freezing). Both of these procedures can be performed with laparoscopic (minimally invasive) surgery. Surgical removal is performed using a laser-like beam of argon gas, minimizing operative bleeding. Cryosurgery uses the technique of freezing the liver tumors (one or many) with liquid nitrogen to sub-zero temperatures. A cryoprobe is inserted into the tumor mass laparoscopically, destroying the tumor cells and blood supply. Patients may be candidates for these procedures, but must first have a series of diagnostic tests.
How are Liver Tumors Removed or Frozen?
Laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery uses a thin, small telescope-like instrument, measuring 1/8 inch and under 1/2 inch in diameter. The laparoscope is connected to a small video camera that projects images on a video monitor located in the operating room. The abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide, a gas that aids in allowing your surgeon to view the area he or she is operating on. Two to three tiny incisions are used to allow the surgeons to operate with highly specialized small instruments. Intra-operative ultrasounds are also used to assess the liver and other surrounding organs.
What Are the Benefits?
- Three or four tiny scars instead of one large abdominal scar.
- Shorter hospital stay--you may leave the same day or the day after surgery.
- Reduced postoperative pain.
- Shorter recovery time--days instead of weeks--and quicker return to daily activities, including work.
What Can I Expect after Surgery?
It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions after surgery. There is some minor abdominal discomfort, which usually lasts just a few days. Although many people feel better in a few days, you may need to take it easy for two to four weeks.
How Safe Is Laparoscopic Cryoablation of Liver Tumors?
If performed by experts in this field, laparoscopic cryoablation of liver tumors is as safe as traditional "open" surgery in carefully selected cases.