Although laparoscopic cholecystectomy has rapidly become routine practice in the UK, there has been no rigorous comparison of it with open cholecystectomy.In our trial, 302 patients were randomised to laparoscopic or minilaparotomy cholecystectomy. Recovery after surgery was assessed by length of hospital stay, outpatient review at 10 days and 4 weeks, and patient questionnaires 1, 4, and 12 weeks after surgery.
The mean operation time was 14 min shorter for minilaparotomy, while median post-operative hospital stay was 2 days shorter after laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The hospital costs were about Pounds Sterling 400 greater for the laparoscopic procedure. Laparoscopic patients returned to work in the home sooner; at 1 week, they had better physical and social functioning, were less limited by physical problems, and had less pain and depression. At 4 weeks, only physical functioning and depression scores were better in the laparoscopic group, and by 3 months there were no differences. Laparoscopic patients were more satisfied with the appearance of their scars. The incidence of complications after both procedures was 20%.
Compared to minilaparotomy cholecystectomy, laparoscopic cholecystectomy results in shorter hospital stay, less postoperative dysfunction, and quicker return to normal activities, but is more costly.