A prospective audit of the diagnostic yield and management benefit of laparoscopy was undertaken in 220 consecutive patients. The procedure was performed electively in 180 patients and as an emergency in 40. The indications for laparoscopy in the elective group were suspected hepatic disease, staging of intra-abdominal malignancy, diagnostic problems, and chronic abdominal pain. Emergency laparoscopy was performed in patients admitted with acute abdominal pain. Diagnostic benefit varied with the indication for the procedure: liver disease 71%, tumour staging 87%, uncertain diagnosis 74%, acute abdominal pain 100%, and chronic abdominal pain 41%. Clinical management was significantly influenced by laparoscopy in 15 of 21 (71%) patients with liver disease, 10 of 30 (33%) with intra-abdominal malignancy, 5 of 19 (26%) with uncertain diagnosis, 32 of 40 (80%) with acute abdominal pain, and 15 of 110 (23%) patients with chronic abdominal pain. A wrong assessment of the nature or stage of the disease was made by laparoscopy in 3 of 220 (1.0%). There was no morbidity or mortality attributed to laparoscopy in the study.
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