Background: In comparison to delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy, emergency laparoscopic cholecystectomy has a shorter length of stay and eliminates the risk of recurrent episodes of acute cholecystitis. Nevertheless, there is concern that emergency laparoscopic cholecystectomy is associated with higher morbidity in acute cholecystitis patients. The present large cohort study compares operation-related adverse outcomes between emergency and delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy and determines the risk of readmission before delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy to guide surgical decision-making.
Methods: Patients diagnosed with acute cholecystitis who underwent emergency or delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy between 2015 and 2019 were included. Perioperative outcomes were compared using univariate and multivariate analysis, adjusting for preoperative variables. The rate of readmission before delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy was determined.
Results: In total, 811 patients were included (median age, 58 years; male:female, 1:1.5): 227 emergency laparoscopic cholecystectomies (28.0%), 555 delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomies (68.4%), and 29 emergency laparoscopic cholecystectomies whilst awaiting delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy (3.6%). Emergency laparoscopic cholecystectomy was associated with increased incidences of subtotal cholecystectomy (OR 1.94; P = .011), bile leak (OR 2.38; P = .013), intraoperative drains (OR 2.54; P < .001), prolonged postoperative length of stay (OR 7.26; P < .001), postoperative imaging (OR 1.83, P = .006), and postoperative readmission (OR 1.90; P = .005). There was a 13.5% risk of readmission over 2 months while waiting delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy and a 22.5% risk over the median waiting time (5 months, 9 days).
Conclusion: Emergency laparoscopic cholecystectomy is positively associated with a multitude of operation-related adverse outcomes in acute cholecystitis, compared to delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The benefit of delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy should be balanced against the significant readmission risk before delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Emergency laparoscopic cholecystectomy may be the most pragmatic strategy for centers dealing with high volumes of biliary admissions and long elective-surgery waiting times. When opting for delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy, confirming the date of surgery before discharge may ensure timely intervention and avoid the morbidity and expense of readmission.