Laparoscopic versus open splenectomy in the pediatric population: A contemporary single-center experience

V. Seenu Reddy, Ho H Phan, James A. O'Neill, Wallace W. Neblett, John B. Pietsch, Walter M. Morgan, Robert Cywes, George W. Holcomb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to compare a recent contemporaneous experience between laparoscopic (LS) and open (OS) splenectomy in children. All splenectomy cases between 1994 and 1999 at our institution were reviewed. The study included open and laparoscopic cases performed according to surgeon preference. Emergency splenectomies for trauma were excluded. The patient record was reviewed for the diagnosis, indications, postoperative length of stay, operative technique, postoperative complications, blood loss/blood transfusion, total amount of parenteral narcotics, and time to resumption of oral intake. Chi-square and t tests were used to compare measured differences for statistical significance. Between May 1994 and December 1999, 52 splenectomies were performed at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. Of these, 45 were elective operations with 29 open and 16 laparoscopic procedures. During four OS and five LS operations a concomitant cholecystectomy was performed. The median patient age was 9.2 years (range 0.5 to 17.3). There was no statistical difference between the two groups in terms of age, weight, American Society of Anesthesiologists class, or estimated blood loss. There were no immediate postoperative complications in either group. There were no conversions from LS to OS. The mean duration of surgery was 264 minutes (LS) versus 169 minutes (OS) (P < 0.05). The average time to first oral intake was shorter in patients undergoing LS (1.1 vs 1.6 days, P < 0.05) and the mean postoperative length of stay was also shorter in the LS group (1.3 vs 3.1 days, P < 0.05). The use of postoperative intravenous narcotics (in morphine-equivalent doses) was significantly less in LS patients than in OS patients (7.5 mg or 0.15 mg/kg vs 46.9 mg or 1.5 mg/kg, P < 0.001), as was the need for PCA pump analgesia (90% in the OS group vs 25% in LS group, P < 0.01). Overall the average hospital charge (anesthesia fee, narcotics charge, and hospital room charge) was $5400 (range $4240-6250) in the OS group and $4950 (range $4450-6240) in the LS group (P < 0.05). Among the nine patients undergoing splenectomy with cholecystectomy, findings between the OS and LS groups were similar except for one late complication consisting of a diaphragmatic hernia in an LS patient. Both LS and OS with or without a concomitant procedure can be accomplished safely in children. LS appears to result in longer operative times but shorter lengths of stay, earlier first oral intake, and significantly fewer requirements for intravenous narcotics; all of these contribute to a reduction in hospital charges compared with the open operation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)859-863
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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