Background: The role of laparoscopic cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis is not yet clearly established. The aim of this prospective randomized study was to evaluate the safety and feasibility of laparoscopic cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis and to compare the results with delayed cholecystectomy.
Methods: Between January 2001 and November 2002, 40 patients with a diagnosis of acute cholecystitis were assigned randomly to early laparoscopic cholecystectomy within 24 h of admission (early group, n = 20) or to initial conservative treatment followed by delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy, 6 to 12 weeks later (delayed group, n = 20).
Results: There was no significant difference in the conversion rates (early, 25% vs delayed, 25%), operating times (early, 104 min vs delayed, 93 min), postoperative analgesia requirements (early, 5.3 days vs delayed, 4.8 days), or postoperative complications (early, 15% vs delayed, 20%). However, the early group had significantly more blood loss (228 vs 114 ml) and shorter hospital stay (4.1 vs 10.1 days).
Conclusions: Early laparoscopic cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis is safe and feasible, offering the additional benefit of a shorter hospital stay. It should be offered to patients with acute cholecystitis, provided the surgery is performed within 72 to 96 h of the onset of symptoms.