The fear of transgastric cholecystectomy: misinterpretation of the biliary anatomy

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Prevention of injury during cholecystectomy relies on accurate dissection of the cystic duct and artery and avoidance of major biliary and vascular structures. The advent of natural orifice translumenal surgery (NOTES) has led to a new look into the biliary anatomy, especially Calot’s triangle. Here we show the clinical case of a NOTES transgastric cholecystectomy for uncomplicated cholelithiasis, in which misinterpretation of the biliary anatomy occurred.

Methods and procedure

A 5-mm port was introduced at the umbilicus to ascertain the feasibility of transgastric cholecystectomy and to ensure safe gastrotomy creation and closure. Transgastric access was obtained using a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG)-like technique on the anterior mid body of the stomach to pass a 12-mm gastroscope (Karl Storz, Tuttlingen, Germany). The laparoscope was switched to a grasper for gallbladder retraction. Dissection was started close to the gallbladder using the endoscope at the junction between the infundibulum and what was thought to be the cystic duct. During dissection, the size and the orientation of the cystic duct appeared to be unclear. The decision was made to switch to a laparoscopic view to reorient the dissection plane and clarify the anatomy. At laparoscopy, dissection of the triangle of Calot, although started close to the gallbladder, appeared far too low. The common bile duct had been mistaken for the cystic duct. Once the biliary anatomy was clarified, the vision was switched back to the endoscope, but an additional 2-mm grasper was introduced to improve exposure while cholecystectomy was performed in a standard fashion.


Specific anatomic distortions due to NOTES technique together with the lack of exposure provided by current methods of retraction tend to distort Calot’s triangle by flattening it rather than opening it out. At this stage, whenever the anatomy of the biliary tract is unclear, a temporary “conversion” to a laparoscopic view, more familiar to the surgeon’s eye, is recommended.


Silvana Perretta, Bernard Dallemagne, Gianfranco Donatelli, Didier Mutter, and Jacques Marescaux have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.

Author information

Correspondence to Silvana Perretta.

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ESM 1 (MPG 247,281 kb)

ESM 1 (MPG 247,281 kb)

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Perretta, S., Dallemagne, B., Donatelli, G. et al. The fear of transgastric cholecystectomy: misinterpretation of the biliary anatomy. Surg Endosc 25, 648 (2011).

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  • Biliary anatomy
  • CBD injury
  • Cholecystectomy
  • Flexible endoscopy