Laparoscopic Ultrasound in Staging of GI Malignancies

  • Ewen M. Harrison
  • O. James GardenEmail author


Cancer staging is the process by which the degree of progression of a primary malignancy beyond its site of origin is determined. Given that the only curative treatment for most gastrointestinal cancers is surgical resection, staging is essential in planning treatment. The accuracy of staging has improved in recent years as a direct result of better imaging: computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET-CT) and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) are now widely employed in the assessment of malignancy and the planning of treatment. Despite improvements in the spatial resolution of cross-sectional imaging modalities, these remain relatively poor in determining the presence of peritoneal disease, and all have limitations in the assessment of local progression.

Laparoscopy has a clear benefit over cross-sectional imaging in its ability to directly visualise peritoneal disease and to directly biopsy abnormalities. The addition of laparoscopic ultrasonography (LUS) has advantages depending on the underlying diagnosis. Laparoscopy is used commonly in oesophagogastric surgery, and although LUS may downstage gastric cancer, its use is not recommended in guidelines. In colorectal liver metastases and hepatocellular carcinoma, studies quote useful LUS yields, but its use in staging alone is now less common given the improved sensitivity of cross-sectional imaging for these conditions. It is a particularly useful though in aiding laparoscopic interventions such as ablation. In pancreaticobiliary cancers including pancreas carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma, LUS has a useful place in identifying irresectable patients who can be palliated by endoscopic or percutaneous means, thus avoiding a laparotomy. It is in these conditions that LUS still plays a significant role in staging in many centres worldwide.


Colorectal Liver Metastasis Gallbladder Cancer Gallbladder Carcinoma Laparoscopic Liver Resection Hilar Cholangiocarcinoma 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Supplementary material

Video 10.1

Intraoperative ultrasonography to determine relationship of large colorectal liver. Metastasis to vascular structures. A local resection was being considered, but ultrasonography clearly shows the tumour abutting the segment VIII pedicle with no resection margin possible at this structure (AVI 71641 kb)

Video 10.2

Intraoperative ultrasonography to determine relationship of large colorectal liver. metastasis to vascular structures. Ultrasonography clearly shows the tumour abutting the segment VIII pedicle with no resection margin possible at this structure. In addition, there is indenting and possible invasion of the right hepatic vein. The patient has a successful open right hepatectomy (AVI 86495 kb)

Video 10.3

A patient with a suspicious liver lesion which on LUS is demonstrated to be an intrahepatic gallstone (AVI 78351 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical SurgeryThe University of Edinburgh, Royal Infirmary of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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