BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the standard treatment for symptomatic gall stone disease. This study aimed to assess the effect of the operation on patients' symptoms. METHODS: One hundred consecutive patients undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy between June 1994 and June 1995 were evaluated using standard questionnaires examining demographic details, indication for laparoscopic cholecystectomy, characteristics of pain, and other associated dyspeptic and colonic symptoms. A history of psychiatric disturbances and of hysterectomy were also recorded. The same questionnaires were administered again six months after the operation. Operation notes and histological reports were reviewed. RESULTS: Three patients were converted to open surgery and were excluded from analysis. The median age of the remaining 97 patients was 50.9 (19-85) years; 19 were men. There was one complication each of bleeding and biliary leak. Indications for laparoscopic cholecystectomy were biliary type pain (66 patients) and complicated gall stone disease (acute cholecystitis 21, cholestatic jaundice six, and pancreatitis four). Thirteen patients (13%) had persistent pain and two (3%) developed diarrhoea at follow up. Only one patient with persistent pain after laparoscopic cholecystectomy originated from the complicated gall stone disease group. Logistic discriminant analysis showed that bloating (p < 0.001), constipation (p < 0.05), and previous and current use of psychotrophic drugs (p < 0.001) were significantly more common among those with a poor outcome after laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Heartburn was unaffected. Of patients with persistent symptoms after cholecystectomy 77% had no or mild histological changes of cholecystitis as compared with 30% in the pain free group. CONCLUSIONS: The incidence of persistent pain after laparoscopic cholecystectomy was 13%. Abdominal bloating and psychiatric medications were predictive for persistence of pain after laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
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