Research Article

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy as a safe and effective treatment for severe acute cholecystitis.

BMJ 1992; 305 doi: (Published 15 August 1992) Cite this as: BMJ 1992;305:394
  1. R. G. Wilson,
  2. I. M. Macintyre,
  3. S. J. Nixon,
  4. J. H. Saunders,
  5. J. S. Varma,
  6. P. M. King
  1. Department of Surgery, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh.


    OBJECTIVE--To evaluate the feasibility and safety of laparoscopic cholecystectomy in severe acute cholecystitis. DESIGN--Analysis of data collected prospectively from a consecutive series of 350 laparoscopic operations. SETTING--Two general surgical units in a teaching hospital. SUBJECTS--31 patients with a diagnosis of severe acute cholecystitis based on clinical examination, investigation results, and operative findings. INTERVENTIONS--Initial intravenous fluids and broad spectrum antibiotics followed by laparoscopic cholecystectomy within 72 hours of presentation. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Failure to complete the operation laparoscopically, length of postoperative stay in hospital, early postoperative morbidity, interval from operation to full activity, and return to work. RESULTS--Laparoscopic cholecystectomy was attempted in 19 patients with empyema of the gall bladder and 12 who had severe cholecystitis which failed to settle on medical management. A total of 29 operations were successfully completed with two conversions to open surgery. Two minor postoperative complications occurred, and one case of retained common bile duct stones with jaundice was treated by endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography and papillotomy. Median postoperative hospital stay was two days, with return to normal activity in seven days and to work in two weeks. There were no deaths related to the operation. CONCLUSIONS--In the presence of severe acute cholecystitis laparoscopic cholecystectomy is feasible in most patients, with minimal risk of injury to surrounding structures and considerable benefits. It is recommended that laparoscopic cholecystectomy should be attempted in these patients when appropriate surgical skill is available.