In neoplasms, conversions are common to ensure negative margins, which can’t always be accomplished laparoscopically.
Severe diverticulitis is another case that can mean a conversion, but hand-assisted techniques can be employed to avoid conversion. In severe diverticulitis, ureteral catheters can be helpful. “We identified a lower incidence of ureteral injury [with the use of ureteral catheters] in diverticulitis and T4 cancers. If you have a big phlegmon or a big cancer, I would definitely consider ureteral catheters,” said Dr. Davis. He pointed out that an inability to pinpoint the ureter is daunting in these types of cases. “That’s another thing to plan on if you know you’re going into these tough cases – trying to maximize your chances of not having a conversion by giving yourself the best possible tools to and the best visualization possible,” he added.
Obesity and inflammatory bowel disease are other conversion risk factors, as is performing a left hemicolectomy versus a sigmoidectomy. “As you plan your surgery, if you know you’ve got an obese patient with bad diverticulitis, this might be someone you would schedule as a laparoscopic versus open, with minimum disposable equipment in the room, knowing that, if it’s just not going to happen, then you need to open,” said Dr. Davis.
Technical factors that can contribute to conversion include failures of staplers, clips, and energy devices. When bleeding occurs as a result of an energy device, he doesn’t repeat its use. “If the energy has failed, I go right to an endoloop,” said Dr. Davis.