Role of diagnostic and ablative minimally invasive surgery for pediatric malignancies




The use of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) in pediatric cancer is a matter of debate. The diagnostic and ablative roles of MIS were evaluated in a consecutive series of children with malignancies.


A prospective study, including all patients, who underwent abdominal and thoracic surgery for confirmed or highly suspected pediatric cancer was performed from September, 2000, to December, 2005. An interdisciplinary panel approved the indication for minimally invasive or conventional surgery.


At a single institution, 301 operations were performed on 276 children with cancer. A minimally invasive approach was attempted in 90 of these patients (30%) and successfully employed in 69 (77%) of the operations. However, 21 operations (23%) were converted to an open approach. Regarding the abdominal operations attempted laparoscopically, 41 abdominal operations for biopsy or staging purposes were attempted laparoscopically (53%), but 6 were converted. In all, 139 abdominal resections were performed and 24 were attempted laparoscopically. Ten of these (42%) were converted. In 34 thoracic operations requiring biopsy, thoracoscopy was attempted in 14 (41%) and was successful in all but 1 (93%). Fifty-one thoracic tumors were resected and the thoracoscopic approach was attempted in 11 (22%) and successful in 7 (14%). Conversions from a minimally invasive operation to an open procedure occurred mainly due to limited visibility. Three bleeding complications occurred with 1 patient requiring a blood transfusion. In addition, 1 small bowel injury occurred with immediate laparoscopic closure. There were no port site recurrences after a median of 39 months.


MIS is a reliable diagnostic tool for pediatric abdominal and thoracic malignancy. The role of ablative MIS in pediatric cancer remains limited. Cancer 2007. © 2007 American Cancer Society.