Trends in incidence, clinical findings and outcome of acute and elective cholecystectomy, 1970-1986

E Kullman, L G Dahlin, S Hallhagen, R Segersvärdh, K Borch
European Journal of Surgery, Acta Chirurgica 1994, 160 (11): 605-11

OBJECTIVE: To assess time trends in the incidence, clinical findings, and outcome of conventional acute and elective cholecystectomy.

DESIGN: Single-institution time series analysis.

SETTING: University hospital, Sweden.

SUBJECTS: A consecutive series of 2926 patients operated on for acute or chronic gallbladder disease in a defined Swedish population.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Changes in the incidence and outcome of acute and elective cholecystectomy.

RESULTS: From period I (1970-1978) to period II (1979-1986), the mean rate of acute operations increased from 10 to 30/100,000 inhabitants/year and that of elective operations decreased from 190 to 120/100,000 inhabitants/year. There was therefore a negative correlation between the rate of elective and acute operations (r = -0.58, p < 0.02). This was strongest when the rate of elective operations in any one year was correlated with the rate of acute operations two years later (r = -0.71, p < 0.01). In both groups the proportion of patients over 70 years old increased significantly. The female:male ratio decreased significantly for acute but not elective operations (mean 2.6 in period I and 1.0 in period II). The length of history and the number of previous admissions to hospital with gallstone disease decreased significantly for both groups, as did prevalence of common bile duct stones detected at cholecystectomy. Morbidity did not seem to change, though a general improvement may have been concealed, because patients were older in period II and postoperative mortality was lower than in period I. Complications were least common among patients with a short or no previous history of symptoms attributable to gallstones.

CONCLUSIONS: The rate of elective cholecystectomy seems to have some influence on the future rate of acute cholecystectomy. When symptoms of gallstone disease develop, treatment should not be delayed unnecessarily.

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