Over 90% of patients with inoperable carcinoma of the pancreas are successfully palliated by endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography and stent insertion. Treatment of the residual 10% of patients often entails a laparotomy, which is difficult to justify when median survival of these patients is only 150 days. Laparoscopic biliary and gastric bypass offers a less invasive alternative than open surgery with shorter hospital stay and more rapid return to normal activity. Between August 1991 and March 1994, 16 patients (median age 69 years, range 31-85) had laparoscopic bypass surgery. The indications for surgery were gastric outlet obstruction at initial presentation (n = 4), blocked biliary stent (n = 8), and metastatic tumour at laparoscopy (n = 4). Surgery took the form of cholecystjejunostomy (n = 7), gastroenterostomy (n = 5), both procedures (n = 3), and failed operation (n = 1). Operative duration was 75 minutes (range 45-190) and hospital stay four days (range 3-33) and all apart from two patients were discharged from hospital in seven days or less. Morbidity occurred in two patients (13%) in the form of a cerebrovascular accident and delayed gastric emptying. Median survival in 10 patients who have died is 201 days (range 20-525). Laparoscopic biliary and gastric bypass is possible in most patients in whom endoscopic stenting has failed and in those who subsequently develop gastric outlet obstruction. Hospital stay is shorter than after open surgery and recovery more rapid.
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