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Surg Today. 2005;35(7):553-60.

Early versus delayed cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

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Department of Surgery, Division of Digestive Surgery, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kyoto, Japan.



We performed a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to determine the optimal timing of laparoscopic cholecystectomy and open cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis.


We retrieved randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that compared early with delayed cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis by systematically searching Medline and the Cochrane Library for studies published between 1966 and 2003. The outcomes of primary interest were mortality and morbidity.


The ten trials we analyzed comprised 1 014 subjects; 534 were assigned to the early group and 480 assigned to the delayed group. The combined risk difference of mortality appeared to favor open cholecystectomy in the early period (risk difference, -0.02; 95% confidence interval, -0.44 to -0.00), but no differences were found among laparoscopic procedures or among all procedures. The combined risk difference of morbidity showed no differences between the open and laparoscopic procedures. The combined risk difference of the rate of conversion to open surgery showed no differences in the included laparoscopic studies; however, the combined total hospital stay was significantly shorter in the early group than in the delayed group.


There is no advantage to delaying cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis on the basis of outcomes in mortality, morbidity, rate of conversion to open surgery, and mean hospital stay. Thus, early cholecystectomy should be performed for patients with acute cholecystitis.

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