Laparoscopic liver surgery has evolved rapidly over the past 5 years in a select number of centers. The growing experience with these procedures has resulted in a shift in the diagnostic and therapeutic approach to common liver tumors. The fact that resection of benign and malignant hepatic masses can now be accomplished laparoscopically with relatively low morbidity has influenced the decision-making process for physicians involved in the diagnosis and management of these lesions. For example, should a gastroenterologist or hepatologist seeing a 32-year-old woman with an asymptomatic 4 cm hepatic lesion that is radiologically indeterminate for adenoma or focal nodular hyperplasia (FNH): (1) continue to observe with annual computed tomography/magnetic resonance imaging (CT/MRI) scans, (2) subject the patient to a liver biopsy, or (3) refer for laparoscopic resection? For a solitary malignant liver tumor in the left lateral segment, should laparoscopic resection be considered the new standard of care, assuming the surgeon can perform the operation safely? We present current data and representative case studies on the use of laparoscopic liver resection at 2 major medical centers in the United States. We propose that surgical engagement defined by the managing physician's decision to proceed with a surgical intervention is increasingly affected by the availability of, and experience with, laparoscopic liver resection.
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