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Pediatrics. 2000 Jun;105(6):1250-3.

Changing indications for pediatric cholecystectomy.

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  • 1Michael E. DeBakey, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.



The purpose of this study was to determine indications for gallbladder surgery and risk factors for urgent surgery.


We reviewed all patients <19 years old, who underwent cholecystectomy between 1980 and 1996.


There were 128 patients (mean age: 10 years). Fifty-two patients had an underlying hematologic disorder, 47 had another medical disorder, and 29 had no preexisting illness or identifiable risk factor for gallstone disease. Twenty-five percent (32/128) of cholecystectomies were performed urgently. Postoperative complications developed in 5 of 32 patients (16%) who underwent emergency surgery and 6 of 96 patients (6%) who underwent elective surgery. There were 3 deaths, all occurring in patients undergoing emergency cholecystectomy (odds ratio: 23). Furthermore, all who died had congenital heart disease (odds ratio: 183), making congenital heart disease an independent risk factor for gallstone-related mortality.


Cholecystectomy is recommended when medically possible for children with underlying medical diseases. Patients with medical disorders that make them a high surgical risk can be followed clinically, realizing that if urgent surgery is necessary, the morbidity is relatively high. Those children with congenital heart disease and gallstones are at a prohibitively high risk for death after urgent cholecystectomy. For these patients, the risk of an elective cholecystectomy may be acceptable when weighed against the high risk of complications from their gallstones.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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