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Ann Surg. 1996 Nov;224(5):609-20.

Mortality and complications associated with laparoscopic cholecystectomy. A meta-analysis.

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Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.



The purpose of this study was to perform a meta-analysis of large laparoscopic cholecystectomy case-series and compare results concerning complications, particularly bile duct injury, to those reported in open cholecystectomy case-series.


Since the introduction of laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the United States, hundreds of reports about the technique have been published, many including statements about the advantages of laparoscopic cholecystectomy compared with those of open cholecystectomy. There is an unevenness in scope and quality of the studies. Nevertheless, enough data have accumulated from large series to permit analyses of data regarding some of the most important issues.


Articles identified via a MEDLINE (the National Library of Medicine's computerized database) search were evaluated according to standard criteria. Data regarding the patient sample, study methods, and outcomes of cholecystectomy were abstracted and summarized across studies.


Outcomes of laparoscopic cholecystectomy are examined for 78,747 patients reported on in 98 studies and compared with outcomes of open cholecystectomy for 12,973 patients reported on in 28 studies. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy appears to have a higher common bile duct injury rate and a lower mortality rate. Estimated rates of other types of complications after laparoscopic cholecystectomy generally were low. Most conversions followed operative discoveries (e.g., dense adhesions) and were not the result of injury.


There is wide variability in the amount and type of data reported within any single study, and patient populations may not be comparable across studies. Except for a higher common bile duct injury rate, laparoscopic cholecystectomy appears to be at least as safe a procedure as that of open cholecystectomy.

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