Urgent cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis in a district general hospital – is it feasible?

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy has become the gold standard for treatment of symptomatic gall stone disease. However, its place remains controversial in the management of acute cholecystitis due to a high reported incidence of bile leaks and conversion rate. Tertiary referral centres have reported good results. We present a series of cases after the introduction of an urgent cholecystectomy pathway in a district general hospital.

PATIENTS AND METHODS

A practice of urgent cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis was introduced by three consultant general surgeons. All prospective patients having an urgent laparoscopic cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis, over an 8-month period were entered into a database. A dedicated ultrasound service was instituted to provide prompt diagnosis in these patients. Their demographic details, operative findings, laboratory results were recorded in a prospective database. Timing of ERCP, postoperative complications and conversion rate and hospital stay were also noted.

RESULTS

There were 64 patients in the study with a median age of 51 years (range, 21–84 years). There were 21 males and 43 females. All patients underwent laparoscopic cholecystectomy during the index admission. Eleven patients had pre-operative ERCP and 12 patients had on-table cholangiogram. There were no conversions. Postoperative ERCP was required in six patients. The median time interval between admission and operation was 3 days (range, 2–7 days). There were two bile leaks but no common bile duct injury. There were two cases of superficial wound infection. One patient required re-operation for small bowel obstruction secondary to a port site hernia.

CONCLUSIONS

Urgent laparoscopic cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis is a feasible treatment option in a district general hospital. A safe practice can be ensured by adherence to a care pathway and a multidisciplinary, consultant-delivered service. Urgent cholecystectomy service can be provided safely in a district general hospital with outcomes comparable to previously published literature.

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