Background: The aim of this prospective randomized study was to define the optimum management between early and delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy for patients with acute cholecystitis.
Methods: Patients were randomized to receive either early laparoscopic cholecystectomy within 24 h of randomization or initial conservative treatment followed by delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy 6-8 weeks later.
Results: There were 53 patients in the early group and 51 in the delayed group. There was no significant difference in conversion rate (early 21 per cent versus delayed 24 per cent), postoperative analgesic requirement (1 versus 2 doses) and postoperative complications. However, the early group had significantly longer operating time (122.8 versus 106.6 min, P = 0.04) and shorter total hospital stay (7.6 versus 11.6 days, P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Early laparoscopic cholecystectomy is safe and feasible for acute cholecystitis with the additional benefit of shorter total hospital stay. Apart from a shorter operating time, treating patients with delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy does not offer additional benefit.