An evaluation of laparoscopic versus open cholecystectomy

K J Hardy, H Miller, D R Fletcher, R M Jones, A Shulkes, J J McNeil
Medical Journal of Australia 1994 January 17, 160 (2): 58-62

OBJECTIVE: To compare open cholecystectomy (OC) with laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) in terms of clinical aspects and a limited review of costs.

SETTING: The Austin Hospital, Melbourne, a university teaching hospital.

DESIGN: Prospective LC patients were compared with a retrospective group of OC patients whose surgery had been performed by the same surgeons.

METHODS: Consecutive patients undergoing LC were interviewed, their medical records were analysed and the cost of their hospitalisation was assessed. Similar data, collected previously from patients undergoing OC, were used for comparison.

RESULTS: There were 108 patients in each group, 93.5% treated electively. All had gallstones. No deaths or common bile duct injury occurred. The mean operating room time was 131 +/- 3.7 minutes for OC and 164 +/- 4.7 minutes for LC. Operative cholangiography was attempted in 80% in each group, being successful when attempted in all OCs and in 95% of LCs. The conversion rate of LCs to OCs was 4.5%. Minor complications were more frequent with OCs. The mean duration of hospital stay was 6.5 +/- 0.3 days for OCs and 2.0 +/- 0.2 days for LCs. The amount and period of analgesia were significantly less in the LC group. Patients recovered significantly faster after LC (P < 0.01) during the first eight weeks after surgery. There was no difference by 12 weeks. The overall cost for each LC was $838 less than OC for the entire hospital stay.

CONCLUSION: These results support the view that LC is a safe and justified replacement for OC in the elective situation, with benefits to the patient, hospital and general community. The hospital cost for LC was less than for OC.

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