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Surg Laparosc Endosc Percutan Tech. 2010 Aug;20(4):265-8. doi: 10.1097/SLE.0b013e3181e1392e.

Video-assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS) drainage of salmonella enteritidis empyema and needle-localization for retrieval of a dropped gallstone.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI, USA.



Spillage of gallstones into the peritoneal cavity (dropped gallstones) is more common in laparoscopic compared with open cholecystectomy. Subsequent infectious complications are often delayed, occurring in 0.1% to 2.9% of cases. We present the first reported case of Salmonella enterica subphrenic abscess and empyema complicating dropped gallstones, treated with video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS), and surgical retrieval.


A 67-year-old male with symptomatic cholelithiasis underwent an uncomplicated laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Four years later, he presented with a mass in his right flank, and an abdominal computed tomography (CT) revealed a right flank intramuscular abscess containing gallstones. The abscess was drained surgically with removal of gallstones. He was readmitted 15 months later with right upper quadrant pain, fever, and dyspnea. Chest and abdominal computer tomography (CT) showed a right pleural effusion and a right subphrenic abscess containing a dropped gallstone. The gallstone was localized with a needle using CT guidance. He subsequently underwent a right VATS for decortication. A separate flank incision was made at the site of the needle to drain the subphrenic abscess and retrieve the gallstone. Cultures from his empyema grew S enteritidis. The patient made an uneventful recovery.


During laparoscopic cholecystectomy, efforts should be made to retrieve dropped gallstones as they can cause abscess and empyema, which might necessitate furthermore surgical intervention. The use of VATS has been established as a safe and effective alternative to thoracotomy, including the treatment of empyema. Needle-localization resulted in a successful retrieval of the gallstone in our patient. Culture of the abscess is important, as unusual organisms such as Salmonella could be present. S. enteritidis has not been implicated as a cause of cholecystitis and is rarely associated with abdominal abscesses. We postulate that the organism reached the gallbladder through the bile or bloodstream after gastrointestinal colonization and that its persistence in the gallbladder may have been facilitated by gallstones.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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