Background: Several anecdotal papers suggest that laparoscopic cholecystectomy can be done safely in pregnant patients, but few patients are reported and other patients such as those who underwent laparoscopic appendectomy are often included. A larger series would help clarify the situation.
Methods: The Connecticut Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy Registry and data from the Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA) were combined to search for all cholecystectomies performed in pregnant patients from 1992 through 1996. Information on outcomes for both mother and infant was obtained through the cooperation of most of the CHA hospitals.
Results: Complete data were available for 46 patients, 20 laparoscopic and 26 open cases. The groups were comparable in all demographic respects except for the timing of cholecystectomy, which was performed at a mean of 18.4 +/- 6.7 weeks (range 9 to 32) of gestation for the laparoscopic and 24.8 +/- 4.7 weeks (range 14 to 35) for the open patients (P = 0.01). A maternal-fetal mortality due to intra-abdominal hemorrhage occurred in the laparoscopic group 2 weeks postoperatively. In the open group, a fetal demise occurred at 21 weeks gestation, 5 weeks postcholecystectomy. The open patients experienced 8 episodes of premature contractions compared with one one such event in the laparoscopic group (P = 0.057).
Conclusions: This represents the largest reported series of laparoscopic cholecystectomy in pregnant patients. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy does not lead to increased numbers of fetal complications. Premature uterine contractions tend to occur more frequently after open cholecystectomy and when the procedure is performed later in gestation.