Iatrogenic bile duct injuries

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The real incidence of bile duct injury (BDI) during laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) is not known.


Using questionnaires, we analyzed 91,232 LC performed by 170 surgical units in Brazil between 1990 and 1997.


A total of 167 BDI occurred (0.18%); the most frequent were Bismuth type 1 injuries (67.7%). Most injuries (56.8%) occurred at the hands of surgeons who had surpassed the learning curve (50 operations). However, the incidence dropped with increasing experience; it was 0.77% at surgical departments with <50 operations vs 0.16% at departments with >500 operations. The diagnosis was made intraoperatively in 67.7%, but it was based on intraoperative cholangiography in only 19.5%. The procedure was converted to open surgery in 85.8% when the diagnosis of injury occurred intraoperatively, and laparotomy was performed in 90.7% when the injury was diagnosed postoperatively. The mean hospitalization time was 7.6 ± 5.9 days, the major complications were stenosis and fistulas, and the mortality rate was 4.2%.


The incidence of BDI after LC is similar to that reported for the open procedure. BDI increases mortality and morbidity and prolongs hospitalization; therefore, all efforts should be made to reduce its incidence.

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