Background: Few articles address the issue of LC in patients with cirrhosis. Existing articles are retrospective and with small sample sizes, which makes it difficult to draw conclusions about indications and complications with LC in this setting.
Study design: An extensive search of the Medline, Embase, and Cochrane databases using the terms "laparoscopic cholecystectomy" and "cirrhosis" or "cirrhotic" was conducted. The data from each study were extracted, combined with those of similar studies, and analyzed.
Results: Twenty-five publications (400 patients with cirrhosis undergoing LC) from 1993 to 2001 were identified. Four articles compared LC with open cholecystectomy in patients with cirrhosis, and six compared patients with cirrhosis to patients without cirrhosis. Patients were primarily in Child-Pugh class A or B, with only six patients in Child-Pugh class C. Compared with patients without cirrhosis, patients with cirrhosis had higher conversion rates (7.06% versus 3.64%, p = 0.024), operative times (98.2 minutes versus 70 minutes, p = 0.005), bleeding complications (26.4% versus 3.1%, p < 0.001), and overall morbidity (20.86% versus 7.99%, p < 0.001). Acute cholecystitis was evident in 47% of patients with cirrhosis versus 14.7% of patients without cirrhosis (p < 0.001). When LC was compared with open cholecystectomy in patients with cirrhosis, LC was associated with less operative blood loss (113 mL versus 425.2 mL, p = 0.015), operative time (123.3 minutes versus 150.2 minutes, p < 0.042), and length of hospital stay (6 days versus 12.2 days, p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Patients with cirrhosis undergo cholecystectomies for more emergent reasons and have higher morbidity. The laparoscopic approach offers advantages of less blood loss, shorter operative time, and shorter length of hospitalization in patients with cirrhosis. Prospective studies will establish which factors affect outcomes and determine the appropriateness of LC in Child's-Pugh class C cirrhosis.