Surgeon-performed point-of-care ultrasound for acute cholecystitis: indications and limitations: a European Society for Trauma and Emergency Surgery (ESTES) consensus statement
Acute cholecystitis (AC), frequently responsible for presentation to the emergency department, requires expedient diagnosis and definitive treatment by a general surgeon. Ultrasonography, usually performed by radiology technicians and reported by radiologists, is the first-line imaging study for the assessment of AC. Targeted point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS), particularly in the hands of the treating surgeon, may represent an evolution in surgical decision-making and may expedite care, reducing morbidity and cost.
This consensus guideline was written under the auspices of the European Society of Trauma and Emergency Surgery (ESTES) by the POCUS working group. A systematic literature search identified relevant papers on the diagnosis and treatment of AC. Literature was critically-appraised according to the GRADE evidence-based guideline development method. Following a consensus conference at the European Congress of Trauma & Emergency Surgery (Valencia, Spain, May 2018), final recommendations were approved by the working group, using a modified e-Delphi process, and taking into account the level of evidence of the conclusion.
We strongly recommend the use of ultrasound as the first-line imaging investigation for the diagnosis of AC; specifically, we recommend that POCUS may be adopted as the primary imaging adjunct to surgeon-performed assessment of the patient with suspected AC. In line with the Tokyo guidelines, we strongly recommend Murphy’s sign, in conjunction with the presence of gallstones and/or wall thickening as diagnostic of AC in the correct clinical context. We conditionally recommend US as a preoperative predictor of difficulty of cholecystectomy. There is insufficient evidence to recommend contrast-enhanced ultrasound or Doppler ultrasonography in the diagnosis of AC. We conditionally recommend the use of ultrasound to guide percutaneous cholecystostomy placement by appropriately-trained practitioners.
Surgeons have recently embraced POCUS to expedite diagnosis of AC and provide rapid decision-making and early treatment, streamlining the patient pathway and thereby reducing costs and morbidity.
KeywordsPOCUS Cholecystitis Diagnostic ultrasound
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors state to have no conflict of interest regarding this manuscript.
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