Laparoscopic partial nephrectomy (LPN) remains a technically challenging procedure largely because of the lack of methods for obtaining consistent parenchymal hemostasis. The objective of this study was to determine if the extent of resection influences the ability of the harmonic scalpel to achieve hemostasis and to define the cases in which the harmonic scalpel is appropriate for LPN. Thirty LPNs were performed in a 25-kg domestic pig model. The blunt blade of the laparoscopic harmonic scalpel (LaparoSonic Coagulating Shears; Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Cincinnati, OH) at power level 5 was used to divide the parenchyma. Control of the renal hilar vessels was not obtained. Three standardized types of resections were performed: I = peripheral wedge biopsy; II = upper- or lower-pole nephrectomy; and III = heminephrectomy. Bleeding was graded on a scale from 0 to 4: 0 = no hemostasis; 1 = steady bleeding; 2 = moderate bleeding; 3 = parenchymal oozing; and 4 = dry. Hemostasis grades of 2 or less were clinically significant bleeding necessitating supplemental coagulation. The mean hemostasis scores showed a significant (P < 0.02) trend toward inadequate hemostasis with increasing extent of resection: 3.3 for Type I, 3.0 for Type II, and 2.4 for Type III. The percent of kidneys with grade 2 bleeding or worse was 9% for Type I surgery, 25% for Type II, and 57% for Type III. Successful hemostasis with the harmonic scalpel correlates with the extent of parenchymal resection in the porcine model. Most wedge excisions can be done with the harmonic scalpel alone, whereas larger resections necessitate supplemental coagulation. On the basis of this study, heminephrectomies with the harmonic scalpel are not recommended because of the high incidence of significant hemorrhage.
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