Background. Laparoscopy and laparoscopic ultrasonography may assist in the more accurate staging of digestive cancers. We assessed the diagnostic value of staging laparoscopy in patients with cancers of lower esophagus, stomach, liver, biliary tract, pancreas and colon.

Material and method. Extended staging laparoscopy, laparoscopic ultrasonography and peritoneal cytology were performed in 165 patients with primary digestive cancers, admitted between January 2006 and December 2008 at three tertiary referral hospitals participating in the study. Staging laparoscopy was immediately followed by open surgery in 63 patients without distant metastases or with uncertain primary tumor resectability, and in 20 colorectal cancer patients with resectable hepatic metastases. The sensibility, sensitivity and diagnostic accuracy of staging laparoscopy for distant metastases and tumor resectability were assessed against the findings on open surgery and the final pathological report.

 An unnecessary laparotomy was avoided in 36 of the 99 patients (36.4%) without distant metastases on imaging pre-therapeutic staging. The staging laparoscopy sensitivity for distant metastases varied between 66% and 100% and the diagnostic accuracy between 87% for the lower esophageal cancer and 100% for the biliary tract tumors. The overall morbidity of staging laparoscopy was 2.5% and the mortality 0.

 Staging laparoscopy avoids unnecessary laparotomies and changes the therapeutic plan in a significant number of patients. It can be performed just before the planned surgery or as a separate diagnostic procedure. The laparoscopy indications in digestive cancers are changing fast, with ongoing new developments in cancer treatment and laparoscopic technology.


Esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, staging laparoscopy, laparoscopic ultrasonography, peritoneal cytology