Surgery for acute cholecystitis in severely comorbid patients: a population-based study on acute cholecystitis

BMC Gastroenterol. 2022 Aug 4;22(1):371. doi: 10.1186/s12876-022-02453-0.


Background: International guidelines recommend emergency cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis in patients who are healthy or have mild systemic disease (ASA1-2). Surgery is also an option for patients with severe systemic disease (ASA3) in clinical practice. The study aimed to investigate the risk of complications in ASA3 patients after surgery for acute cholecystitis.

Method: 1 634 patients treated for acute cholecystitis at three Swedish centres between 2017 and 2020 were included in the study. Data was gathered from electronic patient records and the Swedish registry for gallstone surgery, Gallriks. Logistic regression was used to assess the risk of complications adjusted for confounding factors: sex, age, BMI, Charlson comorbidity index, cholecystitis grade, smoking and time to surgery.

Results: 725 patients had emergency surgery for acute cholecystitis, 195 were ASA1, 375 ASA2, and 152 ASA3. Complications occurred in 9% of ASA1, 13% of ASA2, and 24% of ASA3 patients. There was no difference in 30-day mortality. ASA3 patients stayed on average 2 days longer after surgery. After adjusting for other factors, the risk of complications was 2.5 times higher in ASA3 patients than in ASA1 patients. The risk of complications after elective surgery was 5% for ASA1, 13% for ASA2 and 14% for ASA3 patients. Regardless of ASA 18% of patients treated non-operatively had a second gallstone complication within 3 months.

Conclusion: Patients with severe systemic disease have an increased risk of complications but not death after emergency surgery. The risk is lower for elective procedures, but a substantial proportion will have new gallstone complications before elective surgery.

Trial registration: Not applicable.

Keywords: Acute cholecystitis; Population-based; Retrospective; Survival; Treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Cholecystectomy / adverse effects
  • Cholecystectomy / methods
  • Cholecystectomy, Laparoscopic*
  • Cholecystitis* / etiology
  • Cholecystitis, Acute* / epidemiology
  • Cholecystitis, Acute* / surgery
  • Comorbidity
  • Gallstones* / complications
  • Gallstones* / epidemiology
  • Gallstones* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies