Gallstone disease: Surgical aspects of symptomatic cholecystolithiasis and acute cholecystitis

Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2006;20(6):1031-51. doi: 10.1016/j.bpg.2006.05.008.


Indications for cholecystectomy are limited to clearly symptomatic gallstones. Relatively high failure rates of pain relief are probably caused by incorrect selection of patients for the operation. Contraindications for (laparoscopic) cholecystectomy are related to anaesthesiological considerations. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy was accepted by consensus as the gold standard within 5 years of its introduction. Nevertheless, both the classical open and small-incision cholecystectomies are safe alternatives, and superiority of any one of the three techniques over the others has not been proven. Primary outcome measures (mortality, complications, and symptom relief) seem to be equal for the three techniques. Acute cholecystitis is a complication of gallstones. Generally it is recommended that early cholecystectomy be performed, as delayed cholecystectomy is associated with longer total hospital stay and convalescence due to recurrent cholecystitis episodes. Cholecystostomy is an alternative technique for patients unfit for general anaesthesia. Reported complication and conversion rates in cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis vary, but are higher than for symptomatic cholecystolithiasis. New developments--such as robot-assisted surgery--are expected to have a significant impact in the near future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cholecystectomy, Laparoscopic / adverse effects
  • Cholecystectomy, Laparoscopic / methods*
  • Cholecystectomy, Laparoscopic / mortality
  • Cholecystitis, Acute / complications
  • Cholecystitis, Acute / surgery*
  • Cholecystostomy / adverse effects
  • Cholecystostomy / methods*
  • Cholecystostomy / mortality
  • Cholelithiasis / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Robotics / methods