Purpose: To determine the cause of a marked rise in cholecystectomy at a regional children's hospital.
Methods: Retrospective review of 185 patients undergoing cholecystectomy since 1984. The years 1984 to 1990 (group I) and 1991 to 1996 (group II) were compared.
Results: Cholecystectomy for gallbladder disease increased from 4.4/year (group I) to 16.3/ year (group II). Abdominal ultrasound examinations increased during this time. The ratio of children diagnosed with gallstones and then undergoing cholecystectomy also increased (P = 0.005). In group 11, 43% of children had no apparent etiology for gallstones, and more children developed complications of gallstones and evidence of choledocholithiasis.
Conclusions: (1) The increased incidence of cholecystectomy is probably multifactorial. (2) Gallstone identification has increased owing to increased patient visits and more liberal use of ultrasonography in patients with abdominal pain. (3) More patients with cholelithiasis now undergo cholecystectomy perhaps because of a change in physician perception of the disease and an apparent increase in complications from gallstones.