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Laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the pediatric population.

BACKGROUND: The experience with laparoscopic cholecystectomy in children trails the adult numbers and remains underreported. Therefore, we reviewed our experience with this approach.

METHODS: A retrospective review of our most recent 6-year experience with laparoscopic cholecystectomy at Children's Mercy Hospital (Kansas City, MO) between September 5, 2000, and June 1, 2006, was performed. Data points reviewed included patient demographics, indication for operation, operative time, complications, and recovery.

RESULTS: During the study period, 224 patients underwent a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The mean age was 12.9 years (range, 0-21) with a mean weight of 58.3 kg (range, 3-121). Indications for laparoscopic cholecystectomy were symptomatic gallstones in 166 children, biliary dyskinesia in 35, gallstone pancreatitis in 7, gallstones and an indication for splenectomy in 6, calculous cholecystitis in 5, choledocholithiasis in 1, gallbladder polyps in 1, acalculous cholecystitis in 1, and congenital cystic duct obstruction in 1. The mean operative time (excluding patients with concomitant operations) was 77 minutes (range, 30-285). An intraoperative cholangiogram was performed in 38 patients. Common bile duct (CBD) stones were cleared intraoperatively in 5 patients. Two patients required a postoperative endoscopy to retrieve CBD stones. One sickle-cell patient developed a postoperative hemorrhage, requiring a laparotomy. There were no conversions, ductal injuries, bile leaks, or mortality. Biliary dyskinesia was diagnosed in 10% of the first 30 patients in this series and 40% of the most recent 30 patients. The mean ejection fraction in these patients was 21%. All experienced an improvement in their symptoms after the cholecystectomy.

CONCLUSIONS: Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is safe and effective in children. Biliary dyskinesia is becoming more frequently diagnosed in children, and these patients respond favorably to cholecystectomy. As opposed to the adult population, the incidence of complicated gallstone disease appears less common in children, as most present with symptomatic cholelithiasis without active inflammation, accounting for the very low rate of ductal complications.

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