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

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INTRODUCTIONLaparoscopic 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 METHODSA 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.RESULTSThere 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.CONCLUSIONSUrgent 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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