BACKGROUND: This study aimed to evaluate the additional value of laparoscopic ultrasound (LUS) to staging laparoscopy (SL) for detecting occult liver metastases in patients with potentially resectable pancreatic head cancer.
METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was performed including all patients who underwent SL and LUS between 2005 and 2016. LUS was performed during SL to detect liver metastases not found by preoperative imaging or visual inspection of the liver.
RESULTS: Out of 197 patients, visual inspection during SL detected distant metastases in 29 (14.7%) patients. LUS was performed in 127 patients, revealing 3 additional liver metastases. The proportion of patients with unresectable disease after SL and negative LUS was 32.3%, which was similar to 36.6% of patients with unresectable disease after SL without LUS (difference 4.3%; 95% CI - 13-23%; P = 0.61). Sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of LUS to detect liver metastases were 30, 100, 100, and 94%, respectively. The proportion of patients with distant metastases diagnosed at SL significantly increased over time (P = 0.031).
CONCLUSION: The routine use of LUS during SL for patients with potentially resectable pancreatic head cancer cannot be recommended. Imaging should be repeated when significant delay occurs between index CT and the scheduled surgery.