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Bile duct injuries: a contemporary survey of surgeon attitudes and experiences



The incidence of bile duct injury (BDI) during laparoscopic cholecystectomy has not changed significantly in the past 2 decades despite increased operative experience and technical refinement. We sought to evaluate surgeon-specific factors associated with BDI and to assess how surgeons manage injuries.


An online survey was sent to surgeons belonging to the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons via e-mail. Survey items included personal experience with BDI and how injuries were addressed. Statistical analysis was performed to identify factors associated with BDI.


The survey was sent to 3411 surgeons with 559 complete responses (16.5%). The mean age of respondents was 48.7 years with an average time in practice of 16.1 years. Most respondents (61.2%) had fellowship training. Forty-seven percent of surgeons surveyed experienced a BDI in their career with 17.1% of surgeons experiencing multiple BDIs. The majority of BDIs were identified in the operating room (64.5%); most injuries (66.9%) were repaired immediately. When repair was undertaken immediately, 77.4% of these repairs were performed in an open technique. A majority of surgeons (57.7%) felt that BDIs could theoretically be repaired laparoscopically and 25% of those surgeons had done so in practice. In multivariate logistic regression, any type of fellowship training was associated with a decreased risk of BDI (OR 0.51, 95% CI 0.34–0.76). Compared with those in non-academic practice, surgeons in academic practice were at a significantly decreased risk of having experienced a BDI (OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.42–0.92).


Nearly half of those surveyed, experienced a BDI during a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Community and private practice setting were associated with an increased risk of BDI, while fellowship training and academic practice setting conferred a protective effect. A majority of surgeons felt that BDI could be repaired laparoscopically and 25% had done so in practice.

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The authors would like to thank Shaun Daly for his assistance in preparing this study.



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Correspondence to Reid Fletcher.

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Reid Fletcher, Chandler S Cortina, Hannah Kornfield, Antonios Varelas, Ruojia Li, Benjamin Veenstra, and Steven Bonomo have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.

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Fletcher, R., Cortina, C.S., Kornfield, H. et al. Bile duct injuries: a contemporary survey of surgeon attitudes and experiences. Surg Endosc (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00464-019-07056-7

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  • Cholecystectomy
  • Bile duct injury
  • Minimally invasive