Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology / 2017 / Article

Review Article | Open Access

Volume 2017 |Article ID 2956749 | 12 pages |

Laparoscopy-Assisted versus Open Hepatectomy for Live Liver Donor: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Academic Editor: Kevork M. Peltekian
Received22 Jun 2017
Revised03 Sep 2017
Accepted04 Oct 2017
Published07 Nov 2017


Objective. To assess the feasibility, safety, and potential benefits of laparoscopy-assisted living donor hepatectomy (LADH) in comparison with open living donor hepatectomy (ODH) for liver transplantation. Background. LADH is becoming increasingly common for living donor liver transplant around the world. We aim to determine the efficacy of LADH and compare it with ODH. Methods. A systematic search on PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science was conducted in May 2017. Results. Nine studies were suitable for this analysis, involving 979 patients. LADH seemed to be associated with increased operation time (WMD = 24.85 min; 95% CI: −3.01~52.78, ), less intraoperative blood loss (WMD = −59.92 ml; 95% CI: −94.58~−25.27, ), similar hospital stays (WMD = −0.47 d; 95% CI: −1.78~0.83, ), less postoperative complications (RR = 0.70, 95% CI: 0.51~0.94, ), less analgesic use (SMD = −0.22; 95% CI: −0.44~−0.11, ), similar transfusion rates (RR = 0.82; 95% CI: 0.24~3.12, ), and similar graft weights (WMD = 7.31 g; 95% CI: −23.45~38.07, ). Conclusion. Our results indicate that LADH is a safe and effective technique and, when compared to ODH.

1. Introduction

Liver transplantation from living donors is a potential treatment for end-stage liver disease. And due, in part, to the limited number of available livers from deceased patients, living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) has become an established solution. Since the first successful LDLT for a child in 1989 [1], this life-saving procedure has developed rapidly, providing similar or even better outcomes, especially in children, in comparison with cadaver liver grafts [2]. Living donors are typically healthy adults; therefore the donor’s safety is paramount.

Over the past two decades, laparoscopic surgery has been widely applied to liver surgery. In 2002, Cherqui et al. [3] reported the first case of laparoscopic living donor left lobectomy and laparoscopic LDLT was increasingly used in some centers. However, owing to technical difficulties, this procedure developed relatively slowly. The first case of laparoscopic-assisted hybrid living donor hepatectomy (LADH) was reported by Koffron et al. [4] in 2006, in which hands were introduced into the abdomen while still maintaining the pneumoperitoneum. In this procedure, a laparoscopic technique is employed for mobilization of liver and hilar dissection; however, the parenchymal transection is performed as an open procedure. As a result, this hybrid procedure achieved the advantage of avoiding a large subcostal incision while retaining the safety and familiarity of an open dissection and resection. In addition, laparoscopic-assisted surgeries offered surgeons an opportunity to accumulate expertise before converting to complete laparoscopic living donor hepatectomies.

Several studies have compared the outcome of laparoscopic-assisted living donor hepatectomy (LADH) with widely used open living donor hepatectomy (ODH). However, no consensus has been reached on this topic; it is still not clear which method is of more benefit to the donor. In this setting, we comprehensively collected relevant data and conducted a systematic review with meta-analysis to assess the feasibility, safety, and potential benefits of laparoscopic-assisted living donor hepatectomy.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Systematic Literature Search

This meta-analysis was finished by searching electronic databases of PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science and scanning reference lists of articles in May 2017 by Two investigators (B. Zhang and Y. Pan) independently. Strategies included the terms “laparoscopy”, “laparoscopic”, “minimally invasive”, “hybrid”, “hand-assisted”, “hepatectomy”, “liver resection”, “hepatic resection”, “living donor”, and “liver donor”. All eligible studies in English were retrieved, and their bibliographies were checked for potential relevant publications.

2.2. Eligibility Criteria

Studies comparing laparoscopy-assisted and open living liver donor hepatectomy are included for the systematic review and meta-analysis including prospective or retrospective case series. Studies were excluded if they met any of the following criteria: (1) case reports, letters, reviews, editorials, and studies lacking control groups; (2) studies that did not report the type of surgery or operation data; (3) if dual (or multiple) studies were reported by the same institution and/or authors, only the most recent publication or the highest quality of studies was included. However, articles from the same authors or centers but with different patient cohorts were included.

2.3. Data Extraction and Quality Assessment

Two investigators (M. Y. Chen and H. P. Zhu) independently assessed publications for inclusion and extracted data from eligible studies, including the baseline characteristics, such as first author, publication year, country of region, study type, sample size, and operation outcomes (operation time and intraoperative estimated blood loss) and postoperative outcomes (overall complications and length of hospital stay). The primary outcomes of the study include blood loss, complications, and analgesic use. The secondary outcomes are operation time, transfusion, length of stay, and graft weights. We made attempts to contact corresponding authors for missing data points. Only one author provided requested data for analysis [5].

The quality of the researches was evaluated by The Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale (NOS). The scale ranged from 0 to 9 stars: studies achieving more than or equal to 6 are deemed as good methodologically.

2.4. Statistical Analysis

All analyses were performed with Review Manager Version 5.3 (The Cochrane Collaboration, Oxford, United Kingdom). Risk ratio (RR) with a 95% confidence interval (CI) was used for the comparison analysis of dichotomous variables. The same continuous parameters were expressed as weighted mean difference (WMD) in the same unit or standard mean difference (SMD) for different unit with 95% CI. When data in individual studies was presented as median and a range, the means and standard deviations (SDs) were estimated by Hozo et al. [6]. The test of heterogeneity, which indicated between-study variance, was evaluated according to Cochran’s test and Higgins-squared statistic [7]. Pooled effects were calculated using a random-effects model, unless heterogeneity was less than 50% or . Graphical funnel plots were generated to determine visual inspections for publication bias.

We conduct subgroup analyses in the studies focusing on right lobe hepatectomies (RH) and left lobe hepatectomies (LH).

3. Results

3.1. Study Eligibility

A flowchart of the search strategies, containing reasons for excluding studies, is shown in Figure 1. No randomized controlled trials were identified in the records. Nine studies were selected for the final meta-analysis. Five studies [8, 10, 12, 14, 15] compared laparoscopy-assisted and open donor right hepatectomy and one study [11] compared left hepatectomy. Two studies [5, 13] had data for both right hepatectomy and left hepatectomy comparisons. One study [9] evaluated the safety and feasibility of mixed laparoscopic-assisted donor right and left hepatectomies by comparing them with open donor hepatectomies.

A total of 979 patients were included in the analysis with 309 undergoing LADH (31.5%) and 670 undergoing OH (53.2%). Characteristics of included studies are summarized in Table 1. Four papers were conducted in Japan [5, 10, 11, 13], two in the United States [8, 9], one in China [15], one in Korea [14], and one in India [12]. Seven of the studies graded morbidity according to the Clavien-Dindo Classification. Four studies reported conversion in 10 cases, including diaphragmatic rupture (1 case), right hepatic vein injury (1 case), and IVC injury (1 case). And the other conversions were not documented in their respective studies. Three studies reported quality of life for donor in the follow-up period [11, 12, 14].

AuthorRegionStudy designYearStudy periodLobeIncisionApproachSample sizeAge (year)BMISex (M/F)Follow-up (month)Parenchyma dissectionGraft weight (g)Wound infection rate (%)Incisional hernia rate (%)Dindo- Clavien

Baker et al. [8]USAOCS (R)20092006–2008RiUMILA3315/1833.0Yes
Thenappan et al. [9] USAOCS (R)20112005–2009Le, RiUMILA157/86.76.7No
Choi et al. [10] JapanOCS (R)20122008–2011RiTILA2012/8CUSA100No
Marubashi et al. [11] JapanOCS (P)20132009–2012LeUMILA3113/18Yes
Makki et al. [12] IndiaOCS (P)20142011–2013RiUMILA2613/1314 (6–22)11.5Yes
Soyama et al. [13] JapanOCS (R)20151997–2014Le, RiUMILA6741 (26–65)21.6 (16.9–29.0)33/342700Yes
Open13739 (19–67)22.1 (16.4–34.7)57/8021–861.50
Suh et al. [14] KoreaOCS (P)20142010–2013RiTILA14206/6232.6 (6.4–55.4)00Yes
Shen et al. [15] ChinaOCS (R)20162011–2014RiUMILA2815/13CUSA00Yes
Kitajima et al. [5] JapanOCS (R)20172011–2016Le, RiUMILA15342 (20–67)22.4 (16.5–28.7)36/4036.6 (1.4–66)668 (460–1100)00Yes
Open7743 (21–64)22.7 (16.8–29.8)43/34655 (505–1025)1.30

OCS, observational clinical study; P, prospectively collected data; R, retrospectively collected data; LA: laparoscopy-assisted; O: open; Le, left lobe; Ri, right lobe; UMI, upper median incision; TI, transverse incision; CUSA, Cavitron Ultrasonic Surgical Aspirator; .

The quality of the research included was generally moderate to satisfactory. NOS shows that one out of the nine studies observed had 6 stars, six had 7 stars, and two had 8 stars. Table 2 shows the evaluation of quality according to NOS.

AuthorMatched factors Selection (out of 4)Comparability (out of 2) Outcomes (out of 3)Total (out of 9)

Baker et al. [8]abcdef7
Thenappan et al. [9]abcdef7
Choi et al. [10]abcdefghijkl7
Marubashi et al. [11]8
Makki et al. [12]abcd6
Soyama et al. [13]abcd7
Suh et al. [14]8
Shen et al. [15]abcd7
Kitajima et al. [5]7

Factors matched between groups: a: age; b: gender; c: body mass index; d: hepatic artery anomalies; e: portal vein anomalies; f: biliary anomalies; g: ALT; h: AST; i: hemoglobin; j: prothrombin time prothrombin time; k: prothrombin rate; l: international normalized ratio.
3.2. Meta-Analysis Results
3.2.1. Primary Outcome

Blood Loss. Intraoperative blood loss during surgery was significantly less for laparoscopy-assisted procedures compared to open ones (WMD = −59.92 ml; 95% CI: −94.58~−25.27, ) (Figure 2). In the subgroup analysis, LADH was a protective effect against blood loss compared with ODH in RH (WMD = −57.56 ml; 95% CI: −94.26~−20.87, ). For the LH group, the results also show that LADH incurred lower blood loss (WMD = −91.50 ml; 95% CI: −198.68~15.67, ). Furthermore, the difference was not significant in the mixed group (WMD = 300 ml; 95% CI: −300.93~900.93, ).

Complication. All of the included studies reported complication rate. A reduced postoperative complication rate was observed in the LADH group (RR = 0.70, 95% CI: 0.51~0.94, ) (Figure 3(a)). In the subgroup analysis, LADH was comparable to ODH in RH group (RR = 0.95, 95% CI: 0.63~1.43, ) and mixed group (RR = 0.59, 95% CI: 0.29~1.19, ). However, complications were significantly decreased in LADH for LH procedures (RR = 0.43, 95% CI: 0.23~0.79, ). There are no differences between the two groups regarding the Clavien grades I to IV and V complications (Figures 3(b), 3(c), and 3(d)). Postoperative complications included in this study are summarized in Table 3.

AuthorGroupEventSpecified complications Complication (%)

Baker et al. [8]LA337Small bowel injury × 1, biloma × 1, wound infection × 115.26.100
O337Biloma × 1, pleural effusion × 1, bowel obstruction × 115.26.100
Thenappan et al. [9] LA152Wound infection × 1, incisional hernia × 1
O153Biliary leakage × 1, incisional hernia × 2
Choi et al. [10] LA206Wound complication × 2, diaphragmatic hernia × 1, pleural effusion × 2, biliary stricture × 1
O9021Wound complication × 5, ventral hernia × 1, pleural effusion × 4, bile leak × 8, bleeding × 1, portal versus thrombosis × 2
Marubashi et al. [11] LA3133.206.50
Makki et al. [12] LA26411.503.80
Soyama et al. [13] LA677Biliary leakage × 2, postoperative bleeding × 2, bleeding of duodenal ulcer × 1, PV thrombus × 1, ileus × 16.004.50
O13725Biliary leakage × 10, pleural effusion × 2, infectious complication × 3, nerve paralysis × 2, postoperative bleeding × 1, acute pancreatitis × 1, skin necrosis × 1, gastric stasis × 4, PV thrombus ×
Suh et al. [14] LA14000000
O26822Hyperbilirubinemia × 1, pleural effusion × 6, ileus × 5, wound seroma × 2, bleeding × 3, wound infection × 3, biliary stricture ×
Shen et al. [15] LA285Pleural effusion × 2, pulmonary infection × 1, ileus × 1, intra-abdominal hemorrhage × 17.17.100
O201Pulmonary infection × 10500
Kitajima et al. [5] LA7617Wound dehiscence × 2, intra-abdominal fluid collection × 4; hyperbilirubinemia × 1, fever × 2, renal failure × 1, small bowel obstruction × 1, atelectasis × 1, pleural effusion × 2, bile leakage × 310.57.93.90
O7723Wound dehiscence × 5, pleural effusion × 2, ascites, × 1, portal venous thrombosis × 3, bile leakage × 5, drug-induced hepatotoxicity × 5, intraabdominal fluid collection ×

LA: laparoscopy-assisted living donor hepatectomy; open: open living donor hepatectomy.

Analgesic Use. There are five studies that gave relevant information on analgesic use after surgery and postoperative pain was evaluated by the number of days of analgesic use or the dosage of analgesic. We found that analgesic use was significantly less in the LADH group (SMD = −0.22; 95% CI: −0.44~−0.11, ) (Figure 4).

3.2.2. Secondary Outcomes

Operative Time. Nine of the included studies [5, 815] reported operation times and mean operation time tended to be longer in LADH compared to ODH (WMD = 24.85 min; 95% CI: −3.01~52.78, ) (Figure 5). Two of the studies [5, 13] provided data for right lobe hepatectomy (RH) and left lobe hepatectomy (LH), respectively, and we then did a subgroup analysis of RH, LH, and mixed group. The subgroup analysis shows that there was no significant difference in operation time in LADH and ODH groups in RH (WMD = 23.86 min; 95% CI: −13.72~61.44, ), LH (WMD = 20.92 min; 95% CI: −26.85~68.69, ), and mixed (WMD = 52 min; 95% CI: −11.89~68.894, ) subgroup.

Transfusion. Five studies reported transfusion information, with similar outcomes in both LADH and ODH (RR = 0.82; 95% CI: 0.24~3.12, ) (Figure 6).

Length of Hospital Stay. Length of hospital stay was similar between LADH and ODH (WMD = −0.47 d; 95% CI: −1.78~0.83, ) (Figure 7). For the subgroup analysis, there were no significant difference between LADH and ODH in the RH group (WMD = −0.84 d; 95% CI: −2.58~0.91, ), LH (WMD = 1.00 d; 95% CI: −1.64~3.64, ), or the mixed group (WMD = −0.40 d; 95% CI: −2.52~1.72, ).

3.2.3. Graft Weight

A total of 4 studies reported graft weight, showing no difference between the two groups (WMD = 7.31 g; 95% CI: −23.45~38.07, ) (Figure 8).

3.2.4. Publication Bias

A funnel plot for studies reporting RRs of postoperative overall complications was used to detect publication bias. The plots standing for the studies distributed symmetrically. This result suggested that the publication bias was acceptable (Figure 9).

4. Discussion

Minimally invasive donor surgery was developed to reduce the morbidity and decrease the impact on the donor, minimizing tissue trauma, and improving postoperative pain and cosmesis for patients. LADH with manual hand manipulation in the abdominal cavity, giving the surgeon enhanced tactile feedback of the liver, allowed for more precise mobilization and dissection of the targeted lobe. This technique is combined with smaller incision while preserving the maneuverability and safety of an open liver resection. LADH apparently leads to less wound-related morbidity and the best cosmetic result [16]. In a recent review, Xu et al. [17] examined laparoscopic versus open liver resection for liver transplantation, showing less blood loss, shortened hospital stay, and longer operation time. However, this review did not attempt to clarify the different types of laparoscopic surgery. In our meta-analysis, we only included the studies of laparoscopy-assisted (hybrid) surgery. Our further subgroup analysis was done to learn how LADH affects surgery in different areas of the liver.

Our result confirms that blood loss was significantly less in the LADH group than in the ODH group. This is consistent with published results for laparoscopic hepatectomies, even when laparoscopy is only used for the hepatic mobilization [18]. In the subgroup analysis of single types of hepatectomy to minimize the bias, there was no difference between the types of donor hepatectomy. LADH is a potential technique to decrease blood loss, confirmed by the colorectal surgery [19] and prior analysis [20]. Hand-assisted surgery has been promoted by its advocates in decreased complication rate in the colorectal surgery [19]. Our analysis of LADH demonstrated favourable overall complication rates compared to ODH, similar to the previous analysis [20]. In the subgroup analysis, LH shows a significantly lower rate of complications in the LADH group, which accounts for the lower complication rate in the total group. However, the case volume is small in the left hepatectomy subgroup. In theory, it is easier to mobilize the right lobe from the diaphragm by laparoscopic technique and inferior vena cava with the help of manual manipulation. Adequate mobilization, improved visualization, and better manipulation contribute to the enhanced safety of the operation. Living donor mortality in ODH was reported as 0.2% (23/1153), mostly related to surgical procedure [21]. There was no mortality to be reported in the studies both in laparoscopy-assisted and open group for donor. In other words, LADH shows a better tendency toward in the outcome of morbidity to ODH.

Smaller and midline incisions in the supraumbilical area resulted in reduced disruption of abdominal muscles, deceased scar discomfort, and less postoperative analgesic use in our analysis, raising the possibility of better cosmetic results and, possibly, faster return to work and normal physical activities. However, it tended to have an increased operative time associated with hand-assisted surgery, though it did not reach statistical significance. The result could be explained by the application of laparoscopic instruments for the meticulous mobilization in the liver surgery. Furthermore, the transfusion rate was comparable between LADH and ODH in this analysis. Additionally, LOS demonstrated no inferiority for LADH. Interestingly, the prior meta-analysis of laparoscopic versus open hepatectomy for live liver donor has shown the significantly shorter hospital stay in the LADH group [17, 20]. This may be ascribed to the methods of surgery and postoperation protocols and insurance policy. Regarding hospital cost, it was higher in the LADH. From published data, the overall cost of laparoscopic liver resection was lower than open liver resection [22].

After comparing laparoscopic-assisted operation and open operation, there was a high heterogeneity in the analysis, even in the subgroup analyses by type of surgery. These may result from differences in study designs, number of participants, donors’ baseline characteristics, surgical techniques, and surgical types. In addition, some of the data estimated the mean and SD from median and range, which may result in inaccuracy. No random trials were included and most of the studies were cohort studies or case-control studies. Because of high-risk in the donor hepatectomy, a relative surgical abstention may present in the enrolled patients and their families. Based on these limitations, larger prospective studies and randomized trials are needed.

5. Conclusion

According to our data, laparoscopy-assisted living donor hepatectomy (LADH) is equally safe and effective technique. There was no increased risk of morbidity compared to ODH patients in our examined groups. Benefits of laparoscopy-assisted donor hepatectomy compared to open surgery have demonstrated improved short-term outcomes, especially lower intraoperative blood loss and complications. We conclude that LADH is an appropriate minimally invasive procedure for living donor hepatectomies, which needs to be selected by patients’ and surgery’ preferences.


LADH:Laparoscopy-assisted living donor hepatectomy
ODH:Open donor hepatectomy
LLR:Laparoscopic liver resection
WMD:Weighted mean difference
SMD:Standard mean difference
RR:Risk ratio
SD:Standard deviation
NOS:Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale
RH:Right lobe hepatectomy
LH:Left lobe hepatectomy
ALT:Alanine aminotransferase
AST:Aspartate aminotransferase
TB:Total bilirubin
LFT:Liver function test.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Authors’ Contributions

Bin Zhang and Yu Pan wrote the paper and performed the research. Xiu-jun Cai and Ke Chen designed the study. Ming-Yu Chen and He-Pan Zhu collected the data. Hendi Maher and Yi-Bin Zhu performed the literature search and retrieved the data. Xiu-jun Cai, Jiang Chen, and Yi Dai analyzed the data and revised the manuscript.


This study was supported by Research Project of Zhejiang Provincial Education Department (no. N20140173).

Supplementary Materials

Supplementary material file S1: PRISMA Checklist.

  1. Supplementary Material


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Copyright © 2017 Bin Zhang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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