Intraperitoneal local anaesthetic instillation versus no intraperitoneal local anaesthetic instillation for laparoscopic cholecystectomy

Duncan Rutherford, Eleanor M. Massie, Calum Worsley, Michael S. J. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
98 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Pain is one of the important reasons for delayed discharge after laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Use of intraperitoneal local anaesthetic for laparoscopic cholecystectomy may be a way of reducing pain. A previous version of this Cochrane Review found very low-certainty evidence on the benefits and harms of the intervention.

Objectives: To assess the benefits and harms of intraperitoneal instillation of local anaesthetic agents in people undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group Controlled Trials Register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, Embase, and three other databases to 19 January 2021 together with reference checking of studies retrieved. We also searched five online clinical trials registries to identify unpublished or ongoing trials to 10 September 2021. We contacted study authors to identify additional studies.

Selection criteria: We only considered randomised clinical trials (irrespective of language, blinding, publication status, or relevance of outcome measure) comparing local anaesthetic intraperitoneal instillation versus placebo, no intervention, or inactive control during laparoscopic cholecystectomy, for the review. We excluded non-randomised studies, and studies where the method of allocating participants to a treatment was not strictly random (e.g. date of birth, hospital record number, or alternation).

Data collection and analysis: Two review authors collected the data independently. Primary outcomes included all-cause mortality, serious adverse events, and quality of life. Secondary outcomes included length of stay, pain, return to activity and work, and non-serious adverse events. The analysis included both fixed-effect and random-effects models using RevManWeb. We performed subgroup, sensitivity, and meta-regression analyses. For each outcome, we calculated the risk ratio (RR) or mean difference (MD) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). We assessed risk of bias using predefined domains, graded the certainty of the evidence using GRADE, and presented outcome results in a summary of findings table.

Main results: Eighty-five completed trials were included, of which 76 trials contributed data to one or more of the outcomes. This included a total of 4957 participants randomised to intraperitoneal local anaesthetic instillation (2803 participants) and control (2154 participants). Most trials only included participants undergoing elective laparoscopic cholecystectomy and those who were at low anaesthetic risk (ASA I and II). The most commonly used local anaesthetic agent was bupivacaine. Methods of instilling the local anaesthetic varied considerably between trials; this included location and timing of application. The control groups received 0.9% normal saline (69 trials), no intervention (six trials), or sterile water (two trials). One trial did not specify the control agent used. None of the trials provided information on follow-up beyond point of discharge from hospital. Only two trials were at low risk of bias. Seven trials received external funding, of these three were assessed to be at risk of conflicts of interest, a further 17 trials declared no funding. We are very uncertain about the effect intraperitoneal local anaesthetic versus control on mortality; zero mortalities in either group (8 trials; 446 participants; very low-certainty evidence); serious adverse events (RR 1.07; 95% CI 0.49 to 2.34); 13 trials; 988 participants; discharge on same day of surgery (RR 1.43; 95% CI 0.64 to 3.20; 3 trials; 242 participants; very low-certainty evidence). We found that intraperitoneal local anaesthetic probably results in a small reduction in length of hospital stay (MD -0.10 days; 95% CI -0.18 to -0.01; 12 trials; 936 participants; moderate-certainty evidence). No trials reported data on health-related quality of life, return to normal activity or return to work. Pain scores, as measured by visual analogue scale (VAS), were lower in the intraperitoneal local anaesthetic instillation group compared to the control group at both four to eight hours (MD -0.99 cm VAS; 95% CI -1.19 to -0.79; 57 trials; 4046 participants; low-certainty of evidence) and nine to 24 hours (MD -0.68 cm VAS; 95% CI -0.88 to -0.49; 52 trials; 3588 participants; low-certainty of evidence). In addition, we found two trials that were still ongoing, and one trial that was completed but with no published results. All three trials are registered on the WHO trial register.

Authors' conclusion: We are very uncertain about the effect estimate of intraperitoneal local anaesthetic for laparoscopic cholecystectomy on all-cause mortality, serious adverse events, and proportion of patients discharged on the same day of surgery because the certainty of evidence was very low. Due to inadequate reporting, we cannot exclude an increase in adverse events. We found that intraperitoneal local anaesthetic probably results in a small reduction in length of stay in hospital after surgery. We found that intraperitoneal local anaesthetic may reduce pain at up to 24 hours for low-risk patients undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Future randomised clinical trials should be at low risk of systematic and random errors, should fully report mortality and side effects, and should focus on clinical outcomes such as quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD007337
Number of pages231
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2021


  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures [statistics & numerical data]
  • Anesthesia, Local [methods]
  • Anesthetics, Local [*administration & dosage]
  • Bupivacaine [administration & dosage]
  • Cholecystectomy, Laparoscopic [*adverse effects, methods]
  • Gallstones [surgery]
  • Length of Stay [statistics & numerical data]
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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