Routine laparoscopic cholecystectomy after endoscopic sphincterotomy for choledocholithiasis in octogenarians: is it worth the risk?

R Costi, D DiMauro, A Mazzeo, A S Boselli, S Contini, V Violi, L Roncoroni, L Sarli
Surgical Endoscopy 2007, 21 (1): 41-7

BACKGROUND: No unanimous consensus has been reached as to the need for routine laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) after endoscopic sphincterotomy (ES) for choledocholithiasis in very elderly patients, who are considered as high-risk subjects for surgery.

METHODS: From 1991 through 1997, 170 patients were referred to undergo preoperative ES and routine LC for common bile duct (CBD) stones. The results for 27 patients (age 80 years or older) were compared with those achieved for younger patients. Successively, in a retrospective case-control study, the results for the selected patients were compared with those for 27 very elderly patients who underwent endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), but did not receive LC. The mean follow-up period was 126 months.

RESULTS: Octogenarians showed longer surgery time (79 vs 51 min) and postoperative hospital stay (2.8 vs 1.2 days), as well as more early low-grade complications (15% vs 3%), whereas there were no differences in conversion rate or serious complications. Recurrent symptoms or complications developed in 48% of octogenarians not undergoing routine LC, and 30% finally needed surgery. One patient in the control group died after emergency cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis. The results of surgery were significantly poorer for the control group.

CONCLUSIONS: Although a "wait-and-see" policy allowed two-thirds of LCs to be avoided in octogenarians, biliary-related events developed for every second patient, often requiring delayed surgery, with poorer results. Sequential treatment (ES followed by elective LC) is a safe procedure for octogenarians, and should be considered as a standard, definitive treatment for cholecystocholedocholithiasis even after the age of 80 years.

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