[The treatment of gallstone disease in the elderly]

S van Assen, F M Nagengast, H van Goor, B M Cools
Nederlands Tijdschrift Voor Geneeskunde 2003 January 25, 147 (4): 146-50
Gallstone diseases (asymptomatic, symptomatic and complicated) are frequently seen in the elderly; the prevalence increases proportionally with age. At higher ages (> 60 years) the presentation of symptomatic or complicated gallstone disease is frequently atypical. Complicated gallstone disease (especially cholecystitis and cholangitis) in the elderly is associated with high morbidity and mortality rates. The introduction of laparoscopic cholecystectomy has decreased the morbidity and mortality rates of symptomatic and complicated gallstone disease in the elderly; for elective procedures in particular, the risks hardly differ from those for younger patients. Percutaneous cholecystostomy is an effective and safe alternative for (laparoscopic) cholecystectomy in high-risk patients with an acute cholecystitis. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreaticography (ERCP) with sphincterotomy is also the treatment of choice for common bile duct stones in the elderly. After removal of common bile duct stones (whether or not accompanied by cholangitis or pancreatitis) a laparoscopic cholecystectomy should be performed, unless contraindications are present.

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