Background and Purpose: Adhesions from prior extensive open abdominal surgery can make initial transperitoneal access for laparoscopy hazardous. An alternative to open port placement is a retroperitoneal approach to the peritoneal cavity. We describe our retroperitoneal access for transperitoneal laparoscopy and evaluate the success of the subsequent laparoscopic procedure. Patients and Methods: Eight patients with a history of abdominal surgery have undergone retroperitoneal access to the peritoneum prior to a laparoscopic urologic procedure. With the patient in a lateral decubitus position, the retroperitoneum is entered with a 10-mm Visiport device (US Surgical Corp., Norwalk, CT) along the posterior axillary line. A working space is bluntly created, the peritoneum identified anterior to the colon, and the endoscope passed through a peritoneotomy. The abdomen is then inspected, transperitoneal ports are strategically placed under direct vision, and the intended procedure is commenced. Results: In all cases, retroperitoneal access to the peritoneum and subsequent trocar placement was successful. In five cases, the intended procedure was completed laparoscopically. In a case of bilateral ureterolysis, one side was completed laparoscopically; however, the other required open conversion. In two nephrectomies for xanthogranulomatous pyelonephritis (XGP), open conversion was necessary because of fibrosis. Conclusion: Retroperitoneal access to the peritoneal cavity permits safe and effective port placement when previous abdominal surgery makes initial transabdominal access difficult. However, despite successful access, in patients at risk for extensive perinephric fibrosis (e.g., XGP), a high incidence of open conversion may be expected.
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