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Cholecystostomy: a bridge to hospital discharge but not delayed cholecystectomy


Background — Current data on the clinical course of patients with acute cholecystitis managed with percutaneous cholecystostomy (PC) are limited by small sample size and imperfect follow-up. The researchers present the characteristics and clinical course of a population-based cohort with acute cholecystitis managed with PC.

Methods — The researchers designed a retrospective cohort study using administrative databases capturing all emergency department (ED) visits and hospital admissions within a geographic region with a population of more than 13 million. From all adults with a first emergency admission for acute cholecystitis from 2004 to 2011, those managed with PC were included in the cohort. The cumulative incidences of subsequent cholecystectomy and death were calculated, considering death a competing risk to cholecystectomy. Polytomous logistic regression was then used to examine differences in patient characteristics across outcome status at 1 year: cholecystectomy, dead without cholecystectomy, or alive without cholecystectomy. Moreover, the risk of a gallstone-related ED visit or hospital admission after discharge was estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method.

Results — Of 27,718 patients with acute cholecystitis, 890 (3.3%) underwent PC. The cohort was elderly with a mean (SD) age of 75 (14) years, and 14% were in the intensive care unit on the day of PC. In-hospital mortality was 5%. By 1 year after PC, only 40% had undergone cholecystectomy, while an additional 18% had died without cholecystectomy. The risk of a gallstone-related ED visit or hospital admission was 49% by 1 year after discharge.

Conclusion — While PC is often performed with the intent of delayed cholecystectomy, less than half of patients actually go on to surgery. High mortality and likely ongoing contraindications to surgery preclude intervention in most patients, although the risk of gallstone-related ED visit or hospital admission remains high. Further prospective investigation is warranted to clarify the potential mortality and quality-of-life gains from elective cholecystectomy following PC.

Level of Evidence — Prognostic study, level III.



de Mestral C, Gomez D, Haas B, Zagorski B, Rotstein OD, Nathens AB. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2013; 74(1):175-80.

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