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Hepatogastroenterology. 2000 Jul-Aug;47(34):932-6.

Palliative percutaneous transhepatic gallbladder drainage of gallbladder empyema before laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Tainan Municipal Hospital, Taiwan.



This study is conducted to evaluate the feasibility of percutaneous transhepatic gallbladder drainage prior to laparoscopic cholecystectomy for the treatment of gallbladder empyema. We also determine the sonographic findings, causative organism, clinical signs and symptoms, laboratory data, associated underlying medical disorders and the complications related to both cholecystostomy and laparoscopic cholecystectomy.


One hundred and forty-five cases of gallbladder empyema were included in this study which was composed of 80 males and 65 females, aged 22-94 years with a mean age of 71-years. All patients underwent percutaneous transhepatic gallbladder drainage under ultrasound and fluoroscopic guidance, and laparoscopic cholecystectomy was carried out thereafter. We analyzed the clinical presentations (signs, symptoms, laboratory and ultrasonographic findings, concomitant medical disorders), causative organisms and the complications related to percutaneous cholecystostomy and laparoscopic cholecystectomy.


Percutaneous transhepatic gallbladder drainage was performed successfully in all patients within 48 hours after clinical diagnosis of acute cholecystitis. Complications related to percutaneous transhepatic gallbladder drainage were bile leakage after tract dilatation noted in 2 patients (1.4%), and 20 (14%) patients had pain at the puncture site which radiated to the right shoulder during the procedure, but resolved spontaneously within an hour later. On admission, 102 (70%) patients presented as right upper quadrant pain, 39 (27%) as epigastric pain, 90 (62%) as fever, 108 (74%) patients had leukocytosis, and 33 (22.7%) patients were septic. AST and ALT were elevated in 57% and 51% of patients, respectively. Alkaline phosphatase was elevated in 56% of patients, and 34% of those patients had combined common bile duct stones. Gallbladder stones were documented in 135 (93%) patients, while the remaining 10 (7%) cases were acalculous. Five (3.4%) patients had combined gallbladder adenocarcinoma, 7 (4.8%) had liver abscess, while 13 (9%) had biliary pancreatitis. The ultrasonographic findings included gallbladder distension (93%), wall thickening (90%), pericholecystic fluid accumulation (15%), intraluminal sludge or stone (93%) and intraluminal air (13.9%). Bile culture were positive in 83% of the cases and showed gram-negative bacteria in 75%, gram-positive in 30%, anaerobes in 7%, while no growth in the remaining 17% of the cases. The common pathogens were Escherichia coli (57%), Enterococcus (27%), Klebsiella pneumonia (18%), Morganella morganii (7.6%), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (4.1%) and Salmonella (0.7%). The total postoperative complication rate was 17%, which included wound infection, bleeding, subhepatic abscess, cystic duct stump leak, common bile duct injury and pneumonia. Postoperative mortality was 2.6%. Conversion rate to open cholecystectomy was 27%. Clinical conditions improved within 48 hours after cholecystostomy in 93% of patients. Time interval between cholecystostomy and elective cholecystectomy was 2-21 days with a mean of 4 days. Total hospital stay was 5-38 days (mean: 11 days).


Percutaneous transhepatic gallbladder drainage is a safe and effective procedure for the initial management of gallbladder empyema. We highly recommend this preoperative drainage procedure in patient with sepsis, and for those high-risk patients such as old age and with underlying medical illnesses. This procedure can stabilized the patient so that an appropriate therapeutic planning can be achieved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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