Objective: This study evaluated, in a large, heterogeneous population, the outcome of open cholecystectomy as it is currently practiced. Summary Background and Data: Although cholecystectomy has been the gold standard of treatment for cholelithiasis for more than 100 years, it has recently been challenged by the introduction of several new modalities including laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Efforts to define the role of these alternative treatments have been hampered by the lack of contemporary data regarding open cholecystectomy. Methods: A population-based study was performed examining all open cholecystectomies performed by surgeons in an eastern and western state during a recent 12-month period. Data compiled consisted of a computerized analysis of Uniformed Billing (UB-82) discharge analysis information from all non-Veterans-Administration (VA), acute care hospitals in California (Office of Statewide Planning and Development [OSHPD]) and in Maryland (Health Services Cost Review Commission [HSCRC]) between January 1, 1989, and December 31, 1989. This data base was supplemented with a 5% random sample of Medicare UB-82 data from patients who were discharged between October 1, 1988, and September 30, 1989. Patients undergoing cholecystectomy were identified based on diagnosis-related groups (DRG-197 and DRG-198), and then classified by Principal Diagnosis and divided into three clinically homogeneous subgroups: acute cholecystitis, chronic cholecystitis, and complicated cholecystitis. Results: A total of 42,474 patients were analyzed, which represents approximately 8% of all patients undergoing cholecystectomy in the United States in any recent 12-month period. The overall mortality rate was 0.17% and the incidence rate of bile duct injuries was approximately 0.2%. The mortality rate was 0.03% in patients younger than 65 years of age and 0.5% in those older than 65 years of age. Mortality rate, length of hospital stay, and charges were all significantly correlated (p < 0.001) with age, admission status (elective, urgent, or emergent), and disease status. Conclusions: These data indicate that open cholecystectomy currently is a very safe, effective treatment for cholelithiasis and is being performed with near zero mortality. The ultimate role of laparoscopic cholecystectomy needs to be defined in the context of current and contemporary data regarding open cholecystectomy.
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