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May 1996

Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy in Acute CholecystitisWhat Is the Optimal Timing for Operation?

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Wash.

Arch Surg. 1996;131(5):540-545. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1996.01430170086016

Objective:  To review the results of laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) in patients with acute cholecystitis with attention to cost and clinical outcome.

Design:  Retrospective study.

Setting:  Large private metropolitan teaching hospital.

Patients:  Four hundred forty-six patients had LCs at our institution between January 1993 and February 1995. Acute cholecystitis, confirmed by clinical, laboratory, operative, and histopathological findings, was present in 60 patients.

Main Outcome Measures:  The medical history, laboratory findings, gallbladder ultrasounds, timing of operation from the onset of symptoms, conversion rates to open procedures, operative times, intraoperative findings, complications, postoperative length of stay, cost of operative procedures and hospitalizations, and convalescence times were collected.

Results:  Laparoscopic cholecystectomy was attempted in 16 patients within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms of acute cholecystitis (group 1), in 19 patients with symptoms between 4 and 7 days (group 2), and in 25 patients with symptoms lasting more than 7 days (group 3). The only factor (eg, preoperative laboratory and ultrasound findings) that affected the outcome of the operation was duration of symptoms prior to operation. Patients who had LC done within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms had lower rates of conversion to open procedures, less difficult operations, shorter operative times, less costly procedures, and a shorter convalescence than those with symptoms for longer than 72 hours prior to operation. The conversion rates in patients operated within and after 72 hours were 12% and 30%, respectively. There were no bile duct injuries and no mortalities.

Conclusions:  Laparoscopic cholecystectomy can be performed safely in most patients with acute cholelithiasis. However, we found that the duration of symptoms prior to LC affected the outcome; the conversion rates, hospital costs, and convalescence times increased in operated-on patients with symptoms for more than 72 hours. In our opinion, interval cholecystectomy may be a superior option in this latter group of patients.(Arch Surg. 1996;131:540-545)