Laparoscopic cholecystectomy has become the operation of choice for symptomatic cholelithiasis. However, this operation may result in serious biliary complications. Our aims were to review our experience with biliary complications of laparoscopic cholecystectomy and to document the mechanisms of the injuries and the techniques of managing these complications. We treated 20 patients with biliary complications of laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Symptomatic collections of bile (bilomas) were present in five patients. One of these patients underwent operative ligation of an accessory bile duct in the gallbladder bed, whereas the others had percutaneous or endoscopic therapy. In the remaining 15 patients (of whom 13 were referred from other hospitals), injuries to the major bile ducts were managed by combined radiologic, endoscopic, and operative therapies. In 10 of these patients (67%), the mechanism of injury was the misidentification of the common bile duct as the cystic duct. In 3 of 15 patients, a noncircumferential injury to the lateral aspect of the common bile duct occurred. The Bismuth levels of the remaining bile duct injuries were type I in 3, type II in 4, type III in 3, and type IV in 2. Early outcome of therapy for these bile duct injuries has been favorable. One patient was lost to follow-up, and 2 died of nonbiliary causes, whereas 12 patients are alive and well with normal serum liver enzyme levels at 4 to 19 months postoperatively (mean: 14 months). The most common cause of major bile duct injury during laparoscopic cholecystectomy is mistaking the common bile duct for the cystic duct. Most bilomas can be managed successfully with noninvasive methods. Coordinated efforts by radiologists, endoscopists, and surgeons are necessary to optimize the management of patients with major bile duct injury, suggesting that patients with biliary complications of laparoscopic cholecystectomy should be referred to specialty centers for optimal care.
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