To compare the outcomes of three-port and four-port laparoscopic cholecystectomy. In compliance with PRISMA statement standards, electronic databases were searched to identify all comparative studies investigating outcomes of three-port vs four-port laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Two techniques were compared using direct comparison meta-analysis model. The risks of type 1 or type 2 error in the meta-analysis model were assessed using trial sequential analysis model. The certainty of evidence was assessed using GRADE system. Random effects modelling was applied to calculate pooled outcome data. Analysis of 2524 patients from 17 studies showed that both techniques were comparable in terms of operative time (MD:- 0.13, P = 0.88), conversion to open operation (OR:0.80, P = 0.43), gallbladder perforation (OR: 1.43, P = 0.13), bleeding from gallbladder bed (OR:0.81, P = 0.34), bile duct injury (RD: 0.00, P = 0.97), iatrogenic visceral injury (RD: - 0.00, P = 0.81), bile or stone spillage (OR:1.67, P = 0.08), port site infection (OR: 0.90, P = 0.76), port site hernia (RD: 0.00, P = 0.89), port site haematoma (RD: - 0.01, P = 0.23), port site seroma (RD: 0.00, P = 1.00), and need for reoperation (RD: - 0.00, P = 0.94). However, the three-port technique was associated with lower VAS pain score at 12 h (MD: - 0.66, P < 0.00001) and 24 h (MD: - 0.54, P < 0.00001) postoperatively, shorter length of hospital stay (MD:-0.09, P = 0.41), and shorter time to return to normal activities (MD: - 0.79, P = 0.02). Trial sequential analysis confirmed that the meta-analysis was conclusive with no significant risks of type 1 or type 2 error. Robust evidence (level 1 with high certainty) suggests that in an elective setting with uncomplicated cholelithiasis as indication for cholecystectomy, three-port laparoscopic cholecystectomy is comparable with the four-port technique in terms of procedural and morbidity outcomes and may be associated with less postoperative pain, shorter length of hospital stay and shorter time to return to normal activities.
Keywords: Cholecystectomy; Gallstone; Laparoscopic cholecystectomy; Minimally invasive surgical; Procedures.