We present our experience in the laparoscopic management of benign liver cysts. The aim of the study was to analyze the technical feasibility of such management and to evaluate safety and outcome on follow-up. Between September 1990 and October 1997, 31 patients underwent laparoscopic liver surgery for benign cystic lesions. Indications were: solitary giant liver cysts (n = 16); polycystic liver disease (PLD; n = 9); and hydatid cysts (n = 6). All giant solitary liver cysts were considered for laparoscopy. Only patients with PLD and large dominant cysts located in anterior liver segments, and patients with large hydatid cysts, regardless of segment or small partially calcified cysts in a safe laparoscopic segment, were included. Patients with cholangitis, cirrhosis, and significant cardiac disease were excluded. Data were collected prospectively. The procedures were completed laparoscopically in 29 patients. The median size of the solitary liver cysts was 14 cm (range, 7-22 cm). Conversion to laparotomy occurred in 2 patients (6.4%), to control bleeding. The median operative time was 141 min (range, 94-165 min) for patients with PLD and 179 min (range, 88-211 min) for patients with hydatid cysts. All solitary liver cysts were fenestrated in less than 1 h. There were no deaths. Complications occurred in 6 patients (19%). Two hemorrhagic and two infectious complications were noted after management of hydatid cysts. Three patients were transfused. The median length of hospital stay was 1.3 days (range, 1-3 days), 3 days (range, 2-7 days), and 5 days (range, 2-17 days) for solitary cyst, PLD, and hydatid cysts, respectively. Median follow-up was 30 months (range, 3-78 months). There was no recurrence of solitary liver cyst or hydatid cysts. One patient with PLD presented with symptomatic recurrent cysts at 6 months, requiring laparotomy. We conclude that laparoscopic liver surgery can be accomplished safely in patients with giant solitary cysts, regardless of location. The laparoscopic management of polycystic liver disease should be reserved for patients with a limited number of large, anteriorly located cysts. Hydatid disease is best treated through an open approach.

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