Frail geriatric patients with acute calculous cholecystitis: Operative versus nonoperative management?

Samer Asmar, Letitia Bible, Omar Obaid, Tanya Anand, Mohamad Chehab, Michael Ditillo, Lourdes Castanon, Adam Nelson, Bellal Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION Nonoperative management of acute calculous cholecystitis (ACC) in the frail geriatric population is underexplored. The aim of our study was to examine long-term outcomes of frail geriatric patients with ACC treated with cholecystectomy compared with initial nonoperative management. METHODS We conducted a 2017 analysis of the Nationwide Readmissions Database and included frail geriatric (≥65 years) patients with ACC. Frailty was assessed using the five-factor modified frailty index. Patients were stratified into those undergoing cholecystectomy at index admission (operative management [OP]) versus those managed with nonoperative intervention (nonoperative management [NOP]). The NOP group was further subdivided into those who received antibiotics only and those who received percutaneous drainage. Primary outcomes were procedure-related complications in the OP group and 6-month failure of NOP (readmission with cholecystitis). Secondary outcomes were mortality and overall hospital length of stay. RESULTS A total of 53,412 geriatric patients with ACC were identified, 51.0% of whom were frail: 16,791 (61.6%) in OP group and 10,472 (38.4%) in NOP group (3,256 had percutaneous drainage, 7,216 received antibiotics only). Patients were comparable in age (76 ± 7 vs. 77 ± 8 years; p = 0.082) and modified frailty index (0.47 vs. 0.48; p = 0.132). Procedure-related complications in the OP group were 9.3%, and 6-month failure of NOP was 18.9%. Median time to failure of NOP management was 36 days (range, 12-78 days). Mortality was higher in the frail NOP group (5.2 vs. 3.2%; p < 0.001). The NOP group had more days of hospitalization (8 [4-15] vs. 5 [3-10]; p < 0.001). Both receiving antibiotics only (odds ratio, 1.6 [1.3-2.0]; p < 0.001) and receiving percutaneous drainage (odds ratio, 1.9 [1.7-2.2]; p < 0.001) were independently associated with increased mortality. CONCLUSION One in five patients failed NOP and subsequently had complicated hospital stays. Nonoperative management of frail elderly ACC patients may be associated with significant morbidity and mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-225
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Acute calculous cholecystitis
  • frailty
  • geriatric
  • no operative intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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