Background: While laparoscopic cholecystectomy is generally considered less painful than open surgery, pain is one of the important reasons for delayed discharge after day surgery and overnight stay laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The safety and effectiveness of intraperitoneal local anaesthetic instillation in people undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy is unknown.
Objectives: To assess the benefits and harms of intraperitoneal instillation of local anaesthetic agents in people undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Science Citation Index Expanded to March 2013 to identify randomised clinical trials of relevance to this review.
Selection criteria: We considered only randomised clinical trials (irrespective of language, blinding, or publication status) comparing local anaesthetic intraperitoneal instillation versus placebo, no intervention, or inactive control during laparoscopic cholecystectomy for the review with regards to benefits while we considered quasi-randomised studies and non-randomised studies for treatment-related harms.
Data collection and analysis: Two review authors collected the data independently. We analysed the data with both fixed-effect and random-effects models using Review Manager 5 analysis. For each outcome, we calculated the risk ratio (RR) or mean difference (MD) with 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Main results: We included 58 trials, of which 48 trials with 2849 participants randomised to intraperitoneal local anaesthetic instillation (1558 participants) versus control (1291 participants) contributed data to one or more of the outcomes. All the trials except one trial with 30 participants were at high risk of bias. Most trials included only low anaesthetic risk people undergoing elective laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Various intraperitoneal local anaesthetic agents were used but bupivacaine in the liquid form was the most common local anaesthetic used. There were considerable differences in the methods of local anaesthetic instillation including the location (subdiaphragmatic, gallbladder bed, or both locations) and timing (before or after the removal of gallbladder) between the trials. There was no mortality in either group in the eight trials that reported mortality (0/236 (0%) in local anaesthetic instillation versus 0/210 (0%) in control group; very low quality evidence). One participant experienced the outcome of serious morbidity (eight trials; 446 participants; 1/236 (0.4%) in local anaesthetic instillation group versus 0/210 (0%) in the control group; RR 3.00; 95% CI 0.13 to 67.06; very low quality evidence). Although the remaining trials did not report the overall morbidity, three trials (190 participants) reported that there were no intra-operative complications. Twenty trials reported that there were no serious adverse events in any of the 715 participants who received local anaesthetic instillation. None of the trials reported participant quality of life, return to normal activity, or return to work.The effect of local anaesthetic instillation on the proportion of participants discharged as day surgery between the two groups was imprecise and compatible with benefit and no difference of intervention (three trials; 242 participants; 89/160 (adjusted proportion 61.0%) in local anaesthetic instillation group versus 40/82 (48.8%) in control group; RR 1.25; 95% CI 0.99 to 1.58; very low quality evidence). The MD in length of hospital stay was 0.04 days (95% CI -0.23 to 0.32; five trials; 335 participants; low quality evidence). The pain scores as measured by the visual analogue scale (VAS) were significantly lower in the local anaesthetic instillation group than the control group at four to eight hours (32 trials; 2020 participants; MD -0.99 cm; 95% CI -1.10 to -0.88 on a VAS scale of 0 to 10 cm; very low quality evidence) and at nine to 24 hours (29 trials; 1787 participants; MD -0.53 cm; 95% CI -0.62 to -0.44; very low quality evidence). Various subgroup analyses and meta-regressions to investigate the influence of the different local anaesthetic agents, different methods of local anaesthetic instillation, and different controls on the effectiveness of local anaesthetic intraperitoneal instillation were inconsistent.
Authors' conclusions: Serious adverse events were rare in studies evaluating local anaesthetic intraperitoneal instillation (very low quality evidence). There is very low quality evidence that it reduces pain in low anaesthetic risk people undergoing elective laparoscopic cholecystectomy. However, the clinical importance of this reduction in pain is unknown and likely to be small. Further randomised clinical trials of low risk of systematic and random errors are necessary. Such trials should include important clinical outcomes such as quality of life and time to return to work in their assessment.