Bile duct complications after laparoscopic cholecystectomy

David B. Adams, Mark R. Borowicz, F. Taylor Wootton, John T. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


A retrospective review and analysis of patients referred to the Division of Gastroenterology and the Section of Gastrointestinal Surgery with common bile duct complications after laparoscopic cholecystectomy was undertaken in order to identify injury patterns, management, and outcome. Sixteen patients were identified over a 20-month period. Twelve patients had major common bile duct injuries and four had minor injuries (cystic duct leaks). Seventy-one percent of injuries occurred with surgeons who had done more than 13 laparoscopic cholecystectomies. Eighty-three percent of patients who had major ductal injury did not have a cholangiogram prior to the injury. Sixteen percent of patients with major common bile duct injuries had findings of acute cholecystitis and 58% of these major injuries were "easy" gallbladders. One-third of major injuries were recognized at operation. Two-thirds of immediate repairs failed. All cystic duct leaks were managed nonoperatively. It appears that bile duct complications after laparoscopic cholecystectomy are more common in the community than is reported. Bile duct complications occur with surgeons who are experienced and inexperienced with laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Common bile duct injuries, unrecognized at laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the majority of cases, usually occur with "easy" gallbladders. Operative cholangiography is not utilized in the majority of common bile duct injuries. When immediate repair of common bile duct injuries is undertaken, the majority are unsuccessful. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is invaluable in the diagnosis and management of bile duct complications. Cystic duct leaks may be managed successfully with endoscopic stents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-83
Number of pages5
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Common bile duct injury
  • Cystic duct injury
  • Laparoscopic cholecystectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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