Diffusion of laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the Veterans Affairs health care system, 1991-1995.

M. R. Ferreira*, R. L. Bennett, S. C. Gilman, S. Mathewson, C. L. Bennett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


CONTEXT: Laparoscopic cholecystectomy has become the most widely used treatment for gallbladder disease. In HMO, Medicare, and fee-for-service settings, cholecystectomy rates increased 28% to 59% after introduction of laparoscopic cholecystectomy. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the impact of the introduction of laparoscopic cholecystectomy on cholecystectomy rates and the operative mortality rate in Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals. DESIGN: Sequential cross-sectional study. PATIENTS: All patients who underwent cholecystectomy from 1991 (before introduction of laparoscopic cholecystectomy) to 1995. SETTING: 133 VA hospitals. OUTCOME MEASURES: Cholecystectomy rates, use of laparoscopic or open cholecystectomy, and operative mortality rate. RESULTS: The annual number of cholecystectomies in the VA system increased by 10% from 1991 to 1995; the laparoscopic procedure accounted for 25% of the caseload in 1992 and 52% in 1995. Compared with patients having laparoscopic cholecystectomy, those having open cholecystectomy were more likely to be older, be male, and have acute cholecystitis or comorbid illnesses (P < 0.001). The operative mortality rate of open cholecystectomy increased by 46% during this 4-year period (from 2.4% to 3.4%) and was constant for laparoscopic cholecystectomy (about 0.5%). Given the increasing use of the laparoscopic procedure, however, the overall mortality rate of cholecystectomy during surgery decreased by 22% (from 2.4% to 1.8%). Despite increased use of the surgery, the absolute number of deaths decreased by 9%. CONCLUSIONS: The introduction of laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the VA system was not accompanied by a large increase in cholecystectomy rates, as it was in fee-for-service, Medicare, and HMO systems. Because the rate of operations has changed only slightly, the total number of cholecystectomy-related deaths has decreased.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-55
Number of pages7
JournalEffective clinical practice : ECP
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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