Role of sonography in assessing complications after laparoscopic cholecystectomy

Andrzej Smereczyński, Teresa Starzyńska, Katarzyna Kołaczyk, Józef Kładny
Journal of Ultrasonography 2014, 14 (57): 152-62
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy, which was introduced to the arsenal of surgical procedures in the middle of the 1980s, is a common alternative for conventional cholecystectomy. Its primary advantage is less invasive character which entails shorter hospitalization and faster recovery. Nevertheless, the complications of both procedures are comparable and encompass multiple organs and tissues. The paper presents ultrasound presentation of the surgical bed after laparoscopic cholecystectomy and of complications associated with this procedure. In the first week following the surgery, the presence of up to 60 ml of fluid in the removed gallbladder bed should be considered normal in certain patients. The fluid will gradually absorb. In single cases, slight amounts of fluid are detected in the peritoneal cavity, which also should not be alarming. Carbon dioxide absorbs from the peritoneal cavity within two days. Ultrasound assessment of the surgical bed after cholecystectomy is inhibited by hemostatic material left during the surgery. Its presentation may mimic an abscess. In such cases, the decisive examination is magnetic resonance imaging but not computed tomography. On the other hand, rapidly accumulating fluid around the liver is an alarming symptom, particularly when there is inadequate blood supply or when peritoneum irritation symptoms develop. Depending on the suspected cause of the patient's deteriorating condition, it is essential to perform urgent computed tomography angiography, celiac angiography or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography or magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography. The character of the fluid collection may be determined by its ultrasound-guided puncture. This procedure allows for aspiration of fluid and placement of a drain. Moreover, transabdominal ultrasound examination after laparoscopic cholecystectomy may contribute to the identification of: dropped stones in the right hypochondriac region, residual fragment of the gallbladder with possible concretions, undiagnosed choledocholithiasis, existing cholestasis, pseudoaneurysm of the hepatic artery, portal vein thrombosis and hematoma as well as hernias of the abdominal walls. Moreover, ultrasound examination helps to identify optimal sites in the abdominal integuments, which enables collision-free access to the peritoneal cavity.

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