Laparoscopic cholecystectomy versus mini-laparotomy cholecystectomy: a prospective, randomized, single-blind study

Ann Surg. 2001 Dec;234(6):741-9. doi: 10.1097/00000658-200112000-00005.


Objective: To analyze outcomes after open small-incision surgery (minilaparotomy) and laparoscopic surgery for gallstone disease in general surgical practice.

Methods: This study was a randomized, single-blind, multicenter trial comparing laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) to minilaparotomy cholecystectomy (MC). Both elective and acute patients were eligible for inclusion. All surgeons normally performing cholecystectomy, both trainees under supervision and consultants, operated on randomized patients. LC was a routine procedure at participating hospitals, whereas MC was introduced after a short training period. All nonrandomized cholecystectomies at participating units during the study period were also recorded to analyze the external validity of trial results. The randomization period was from March 1, 1997, to April 30, 1999.

Results: Of 1,705 cholecystectomies performed at participating units during the randomization period, 724 entered the trial and 362 patients were randomized to each of the procedures. The groups were well matched for age and sex, but there were fewer acute operations in the LC group than the MC group. In the LC group 264 and in the MC group 150 operations were performed by surgeons who had done more than 25 operations of that type. Median operating times were 100 and 85 minutes for LC and MC, respectively. Median hospital stay was 2 days in each group, but in a nonparametric test it was significantly shorter after LC. Median sick leave and time for return to normal recreational activities were shorter after LC than MC. Intraoperative complications were less frequent in the MC group, but there was no difference in the postoperative complication rate between the groups. There was one serious bile duct injury in each group, but no deaths.

Conclusions: Operating time was longer and convalescence was smoother for LC compared with MC. Further analyses of LC versus MC are necessary regarding surgical training, surgical outcome, and health economy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Bile Ducts / injuries
  • Cholecystectomy / adverse effects
  • Cholecystectomy / methods*
  • Cholecystectomy, Laparoscopic / adverse effects
  • Cholelithiasis / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications
  • Laparotomy* / adverse effects
  • Laparotomy* / methods
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures
  • Pain, Postoperative
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sick Leave
  • Single-Blind Method