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Examine changing patient characteristics and surgical outcomes for patients undergoing cholecystectomy at five community hospitals in 1989 and 1993.In a retrospective chart review, data were gathered regarding gallstone disease severity, type of admission, patient age, number of comorbidities, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Physical Status Classification, length of stay, and multiple outcomes of surgery.The volume of nonincidental cholecystectomies increased 26%, from 1611 in 1989 to 2031 in 1993. Nearly all of the increase occurred among patients with uncomplicated cholelithiasis and with elective admissions. In 1993, lengths of stay were significantly shorter and percentages of complications were significantly lower for infectious, cardiac, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal complications when controlling for patient case-mix characteristics. There were more major intraoperative complications (unintended wounds or injuries to the common bile duct, bowel, blood vessel(s), or other organs) in 1993.Different types of patients underwent cholecystectomy in 1993 compared with patients in 1989, which supports the hypothesis of changing thresholds. Statements supporting the safety of cholecystectomy in the laparoscopic era were borne out when controlling for differences in patient characteristics.