Laparoscopic cholecystectomy in cirrhotic patients

J Schiff, M Misra, G Rendon, J Rothschild, S Schwaitzberg
Surgical Endoscopy 2005, 19 (9): 1278-81

BACKGROUND: Due to unacceptable increases in intra- and postoperative complications and associated morbidity, cirrhosis of the liver is often considered to be a contraindication for laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC). However, recent advances have now made it increasingly possible for experienced surgeons to perform LC on this high-risk population. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of the coagulopathy associated with cirrhosis on the performance and results of LC. We hypothesized that the factors leading to hemorrhage, rather than Child's classification, would drive operating time and resource utilization.

METHODS: Between 1 July 1996 and 30 June 2003, 1,285 cholecystectomies were performed. Thirty one of these patients had evidence of cirrhosis at the time of operation. The 31 patients were divided into high, (low platelets, prolonged International Normalized Ratio) (n = 18), intermediate, (abnormal liver function tests, normal clotting) (n = 5), and low, (normal platelets, normal clotting, and normal liver function tests) (n = 8) surgical risk categories for further analysis. Based on the Child-Turcotte-Pugh (CTP) classification of cirrhosis, there were three grade C and 28 grade A or grade B patients.

RESULTS: There were 24 LC, three of which were started laparoscopically and then converted to open, and four open cholecystectomies. Operating room time ranged from 79 to 450 min, with the extent of coagulopathy correlating with the length of time needed to achieve satisfactory hemostasis. Median length of stay postoperatively in the high-risk group was 2 days (range, 0-20). Nine of the cholecystectomies were performed on an outpatient basis. One patient received a liver transplantation 5 months post-LC. There were no operative deaths, bile duct injuries, or returns to the operating room for bleeding. Blood product usage correlated with preexisting coagulopathy.

CONCLUSIONS: Currently, the classification of cirrhotic patients is normally done using the CTP score. However, preoperative platelet levels and INR more accurately predict the difficulty of cholecystectomy than CTP score, because intraoperative hemorrhage is the primary concern in these patients. This study demonstrates that preoperative degree of coagulopathy, and not Child's class, should guide the surgeon's approach and expectations when LC is performed in a cirrhotic patient.

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