Laparoscopic cholecystectomy has rapidly become the prime modality for removal of the gallbladder. However, as laparoscopic techniques for treating choledocholithiasis are evolving, we reviewed our experience with acute gallstone pancreatitis since the inception of laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Between November 1989 and March 1993, we treated 57 patients with acute gallstone pancreatitis. Cholecystectomy was performed during the initial admission in 46 patients (81%, group I), while 11 (19%) underwent delayed cholecystectomy at a second admission 2 to 9 weeks later (group II). Within group I, eight patients (17%) were thought to have contraindications to laparoscopic cholecystectomy and underwent open cholecystectomy. In the remaining 38 patients of group I, laparoscopic cholecystectomy was completed successfully. Preoperative endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) was performed in 23 of these patients (61%) and endoscopic sphincterotomy was performed in 6 patients (26%). In four other patients, the intraoperative cholangiogram revealed common bile duct stones that were removed using laparoscopic techniques. The 11 patients in group II were all treated by laparoscopic cholecystectomy; of these patients, 3 underwent preoperative endoscopic stone removal and 1 had choledocholithiasis managed laparoscopically. Postoperative hospitalization averaged 4 ± 1 days (mean ± SEM), and there was no major morbidity or 30-day mortality. This is the first large series of acute gallstone pancreatitis in the era of laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Our experience suggests that laparoscopic cholecystectomy with or without ERCP should be the primary approach for treating acute gallstone pancreatitis in the 1990s.
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