Although laparoscopic cholecystectomy has rapidly developed in the treatment of gall bladder disease in the absence of controlled clinical trial data its outcome parameters compared with open cholecystectomy remain unclear. A prospective audit of the introduction of laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the west of Scotland over a two year period was carried out to attempt to assess this new procedure. A total of 45 surgeons in 19 hospitals performing laparoscopic cholecystectomy submitted prospective data from September 1990-1992. A total of 2285 cholecystectomies were audited (a completed data collection rate of 99%). Laparoscopic cholecystectomy was attempted in 1683 (74%) patients and completed in 1448 patients (median conversion rate to the open procedure 17%). The median operation time in the completed laparoscopic cholecystectomy patients was 100 minutes (range 30-330) and overall hospital stay three days (1-33). There were nine deaths (0.5%) after laparoscopic cholecystectomy although only two were directly attributable to the laparoscopic procedure. In the laparoscopic cholecystectomy group there were 99 complications (5.9%), 53 (3%) of these were major requiring further invasive intervention. Forty patients (2.4%) required early or delayed laparotomy for major complications such as bleeding or bile duct injuries. There were 11 (0.7%) bile duct injuries in the laparoscopic cholecystectomy series, five were noted during the initial procedure and six were recognised later resulting from jaundice or bile leaks. Ductal injuries occurred after a median of 20 laparoscopic cholecystectomies. In conclusion laparoscopic cholecystectomy has rapidly replaced open cholecystectomy in the treatment of gall bladder disease. Although the overall death and complication rate associated with laparoscopic cholecystectomy is similar to open cholecystectomy, the bile duct injury rate is higher.
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