A secure lymphadenectomy in a laparoscopically assisted gastrectomy performed for gastric cancer is required because of the high prevalence of lymph node metastasis. A surgical technique for laparoscopic gastrectomy with lymph node dissection and reconstruction using a conventional circular stapler is reported.
Forty-nine laparoscopically assisted gastrectomies with lymphadenectomy (47 distal and two total gastrectomies) were performed using devices for retraction of the stomach and laparoscopic ligation of arteries, which were developed to ensure secure dissection of lymph nodes. Reconstruction by Billroth I or intestinal interposition using a conventional circular stapler was performed through a small incision through which the specimen was removed. When submucosal invasion was suspected (n = 16), the lymph nodes along with the common hepatic artery were also dissected through the same incision.
The operations were performed without serious complication. None was converted to laparotomy, and there were no deaths. Metastatic lymph nodes were seen in perigastric nodes and nodes along the left gastric artery in five cases. In five of the 49 patients the macroscopic diagnosis of depth of invasion was underestimated.
A technique of laparoscopic gastrectomy with lymph node dissection for early invasive gastric cancer is described. A definitive answer concerning the appropriate level of lymph node dissection and the role of laparoscopic gastrectomy in the treatment of more advanced gastric cancer remains to be defined. © 2001 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd