Comparative Study
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Early versus delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials.

BACKGROUND: The appropriate timing for laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the treatment of acute cholecystitis remains controversial. More recent evaluation indicates early laparoscopic surgery may be a safe option in acute cholecystitis, although conversion rates may be higher. No conclusive evidence establishing best practice in terms of clinical benefit exists.

METHODS: All randomized clinical studies published between 1987 and 2006 comparing early versus delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis were analyzed, irrespective of language, blinding, or publication status. Exclusions were quasi-randomized trials, inadequate follow-up description, or allocation concealment. Endpoints included conversion rates, postoperative complications, total hospital stay, and operation time. Random and fixed-effect models were used to aggregate the study endpoints and assess heterogeneity.

RESULTS: Four studies containing 375 patients were included. No significant study heterogeneity or publication bias was found. There was no significant difference in conversion rates (odds ratio = .915 [95% confidence interval (CI), .567-1.477], P = .718) and postoperative complications (odds ratio = 1.073 [95% CI, .599-1.477], P = .813) between both groups. Operation time was significantly reduced (weighted mean difference [WMD] = .412 [95% CI, .149-.675], P = .002) with delayed cholecystectomy. The total hospital stay was significantly reduced (WMD = .905 [95% CI, .630-1.179], P = .0005) with early cholecystectomy. The postoperative stay was significantly reduced in the delayed group (WMD = .393 [95% CI, .128-.659], P = .004).

CONCLUSIONS: These meta-analysis data suggest that early laparoscopic cholecystectomy allows significantly shorter total hospital stay at the cost of a significantly longer operation time with no significant differences in conversion rates or complications.

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