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Surg Endosc. 1997 Feb;11(2):98-102.

The acute abdomen in the pregnant patient. Is there a role for laparoscopy?

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Department of Surgery, North Colorado Medical Center, 1801 16th Street, Greeley, CO 80631, USA.



The acute abdomen in the pregnant patient poses a difficult diagnostic and therapeutic challenge to the surgeon. Appendicitis, cholecystitis, and bowel obstruction account for the majority of the abdominal pain syndromes which require surgical intervention. Laparoscopy is being used increasingly in the diagnosis and operative management of these disorders.


We examine our experience over the last 3 years with 47 women who developed significant abdominal pain during pregnancy. Thirty-four patients had symptomatic gallstone disease, nine had appendicitis, two had incarcerated inguinal hernias, and two had pelvic masses. Twenty-two patients with biliary colic and two patients with acute cholecystitis were managed conservatively during pregnancy. Twenty-three of these underwent laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the postpartum period. A total of 23 women required surgical intervention during pregnancy and 15 underwent a variety of laparoscopic procedures. Ten patients underwent laparoscopic cholecystectomy, and five had laparoscopic appendectomy. The remaining five patients had open appendectomy. Among the 15 laparoscopic procedures, four were performed in the first trimester, seven were performed in the second trimester, and four were performed in the third trimester.


Laparoscopy didn't result in increased maternal morbidity. There were no congenital malformations, fetal losses, or premature deliveries in the pregnant patients who underwent laparoscopy.


Laparoscopy can be a useful means of diagnosis and in addition a therapeutic tool in selected pregnant patients with abdominal pain. Close maternal and fetal monitoring is essential during and after the procedure. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is safe and can be performed without additional risk to the fetus for those who require surgical intervention during pregnancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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