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Improving early cholecystectomy rate in acute cholecystitis with an evidence-based local multidisciplinary protocol and a surgical audit: single-center experience through an Acute Care Surgery Division.

PURPOSE: To analyze if, after implementation of an evidence-based local multidisciplinary protocol for acute cholecystitis (AC), an intermediate surgical audit could improve early cholecystectomy (EC) rate and other therapeutic indicators.

METHODS: Longitudinal cohort study at a tertiary center. The local protocol, promoted, created, and periodically revised by the Acute Care Surgery Unit (ACSu) was updated and approved on March 2019. A specific registry was prospectively fulfilled with demographics, comorbidity, type of presentation, diagnostic items, therapeutic decision, and clinical course, considering both non-operative management (NOM) or cholecystectomy, early and delayed (EC and DC). Phase 1: April 2019-April 2021. A critical analysis and a surgical audit with the participation of all the involved Departments were then performed, especially focusing on improving global EC rate, considered primary outcome. Phase 2: May 2021-May 2023. Software SPSS 23.0 was used to compare data between phases.

RESULTS: Initial EC rate was significantly higher on Phase 2 (39.3%vs52.5%, p < 0.004), as a significantly inferior rate of patients were initially bailed out from EC to NOM because of comorbidity (14.4%vs8%, p < 0.02) and grade II with severe inflammatory signs (7%vs3%, p < 0.04). A higher percentage of patients was recovered for EC after an initial decision of NOM on Phase 2, but without reaching statistical significance (21.8%vs29.2%, n.s.). Global EC rate significantly increased between phases (52.5%vs66.3%, p < 0.002) without increasing morbidity and mortality. A significant minor percentage of elective cholecystectomies after AC episodes had to be performed on Phase 2 (14%vs6.7%, p < 0.009). Complex EC and those indicated after readmission or NOM failure were usually performed by the ACSu staff.

CONCLUSION: To adequately follow up the implementation of a local protocol for AC healthcare, registering and periodically analyzing data allow to perform intermediate surgical audits, useful to improve therapeutic indicators, especially EC rate. AC constitutes an ideal model to work with an ACSu.

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