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How, when, and why bile duct injury occurs

A comparison between open and laparoscopic cholecystectomy

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Background: Bile duct injury (BDI) is a severe complication of laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC). There is general agreement about the increase of this complication after LC vs open cholecystectomy (OC), but comparative studies are scarce. The aim of this paper has been to compare the incidence and clinical features of BDI after LC vs open procedures.

Materials and methods: 3,051 OC, performed from June 1977 to December 1988 were retrospectively analyzed and compared with 1,630 LCs performed from June 91 to August 96, for which data were prospectively recorded. Age, sex, type of BDI, performance of intraoperative cholangiography (IOC), underlying biliary pathology, morbidity, mortality, and late morbidity were all analyzed.

Results: BDI incidence was higher in group II (LC) (N: 16, 0.95%) than in group I, (OC, N: 19, 0.6%). BDI incidence was also higher in the group of patients in which it was necessary to convert to an open procedure (3/109, 2.7%, p < 0.05). BDIs were more frequently diagnosed intraoperatively in group I (OC, 18/19) than in group II (LC, 12/16). In both groups, BDI was more prevalent in cases operated by staff surgeons than residents, mainly in complicated gallbladder patients, with a bile duct of less than 7-mm diameter. Morbidity, postoperative stay, mortality, and late morbidity were similar after a BDI in both types of approach.

Conclusion: (1) BDI increases with LC. (2) BDI after LC carries a similar postoperative morbidity and mortality to those after OC. (3) Incidence of BDI in converted cases increases significantly and this constitutes a high-risk group.

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Received: 6 June 1997/Accepted: 8 September 1997

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Targarona, E.M., Marco, C., Balagué, C. et al. How, when, and why bile duct injury occurs. Surg Endosc 12, 322–326 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004649900662

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  • Key words: Gallstones — Open cholecystectomy — Laparoscopic cholecystectomy — Bile duct injury