Should Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy be Practiced in the Developing World?: The Experience of the First Training Program in Afghanistan

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Objective:We address the controversial issue of whether or not it is wise to perform and train laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) in a developing nation by reviewing the results of the first large series done in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has been devastated by 3 decades of war leaving it with deficiencies in training programs, medical technologies, and overall medical infrastructure that are among the worst in the developing world.Methods:We retrospectively reviewed 137 consecutive cholecystectomies, 102 laparoscopic and 35 open, performed by 4 senior and 3 junior surgeons trained at our hospital in Kabul from July 2005 until February 2008. Deaths, complications, conversion rate, operative time, and hospital length of stay were compared.Results:Unrecognized major operative injuries occurred in 4 LC patients, 3 bile leaks, and 1 duodenal perforation, although there were no such injuries in the open cholecystectomy group. Complication rates were much higher for patients operated on for acute cholecystitis for both surgeon groups. Even though junior surgeons converted to open cholecystectomy more frequently than senior surgeons, they had a higher major complication rate. Hospital length of stay was 28% shorter for the laparoscopic group.Conclusions:The high rate of major unrecognized intraoperative complications during LC in our series underscores the difficulties inherent in performing and training LC in developing nations. Practical changes are suggested to make LC more efficient and safer in a developing world hospital.

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