Conference Coverage

Interval cholecystectomy may be a risky business


Key clinical point: Cholecystectomy after percutaneous cholecystostomy was riskier than was immediate surgery.

Major finding: Interval cholecystectomy was associated with greater blood loss, more conversions to open surgery, bowel and biliary injuries, and even higher 1-year mortality (15% vs. 0.44%).

Data source: A retrospective review comparing 177 patients with interval surgery to 227 who had immediate surgery.

Disclosures: Dr. Ackerman had no financial disclosures.



– Interval cholecystectomy remains a challenging procedure, with longer operative times and ICU stays, greater blood loss, more biliary and bowel injuries, and even hints of increased mortality, compared with immediate cholecystectomy, according to the findings from a retrospective study of 404 patients.

The staged procedure, completed after antibiotic therapy and percutaneous cholecystostomy, has been increasing in frequency over the past 10 years, but has not been rigorously studied, James Ackerman, MD, said at the annual scientific assembly of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma.

Dr. James Ackerman
Dr. James Ackerman

“Looking at Medicare data over the past decade, we see a 50% increase in this procedure, which is marked by some striking regional variation,” from 5% of acute cholecystitis cases in the Northeast to less than 1% in some other regions. “This shows that as a group, we really don’t know what to do with this procedure.”

The revised Tokyo Guidelines for the management of acute cholangitis and cholecystitis aren’t hugely helpful either, noted Dr. Ackerman of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. While the guidelines are fairly straightforward for patients with grade 1 and grade 3 disease, “there’s a lot of gray area in grade 2.”

Treatment for these patients should include biliary drainage with antibiotics, but, he said, the recommendations for surgery, and whether it should be elective, immediate, or delayed, can be confusing for this group.

Dr. Ackerman’s retrospective analysis comprised 177 patients with acute cholecystitis who underwent an interval cholecystectomy (IC) after percutaneous cholecystostomy, and 227 controls who underwent an immediate cholecystectomy. The analysis spanned 2008-2013 and used data from seven hospitals in one health care system.

Patients who had the IC were older (70 vs. 55 years), had a worse American Society of Anesthesiologists class (3 vs. 2.5), and a worse Tokyo Grade (2 vs. 1).

Most of the IC procedures (119) were laparoscopic. There were 43 conversions to open and 15 were planned open surgeries. Among the immediate cholecystectomies, most (192) were laparoscopic. There were 28 conversions to open and six planned open surgeries.

The conversion rate was significantly higher among the IC group (28% vs.13%). The most common reasons for conversion were hostile abdomen (48% vs. 16%) and hostile right upper quadrant (34% vs. 58%).

Operating time was significantly longer in the IC group (121 vs. 90 minutes). Estimated blood loss was also significantly higher (30 vs. 15 cc). Total hospital stay was significantly longer (7 vs. 5 days), as was ICU stay (1 vs. 0.1 day).

There were no biliary tract injuries in the cholecystectomy group, while 5.7% of IC patients sustained such an injury. Bowel injuries, most often serosal, were also more common in the IC group (6% vs. 0.4%). The IC group had more surgical site infections as well (12% vs. 0.44%).

There was no significant difference in 30-day mortality, but at 1 year, IC patients were significantly more likely to have died (15% vs. 0.44%).

The ongoing CHOCOLATE trial (Acute cholecystitis in high risk surgical patients: percutaneous cholecystostomy versus laparoscopic cholecystectomy) may help clarify the issue further, Dr. Ackerman said. The study being conducted in the Netherlands is randomizing high-risk cholecystitis patients to either laparoscopic cholecystectomy or percutaneous drainage.

Dr. Ackerman had no financial disclosures.

On Twitter @Alz_Gal

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