Opinion is divided whether intra-operative cholangiography should be performed routinely or on a selective basis during laparoscopic cholecystectomy. We therefore performed the first prospective randomized trial of static cholangiography in patients who did not have indications for cholangiograms. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy was attempted on 164 consecutive patients, of whom 49 (30%) patients were excluded from the trial due to indications for or against cholangiography. In the remaining 115 (70%) patients, 56 were randomized to the cholangiography group while 59 patients did not receive cholangiograms. Duration of postoperative hospitalization and interval to return to full activity were identical in the two groups. Static cholangiograms added 16 ± 1 min (mean ± SEM) to the procedures (p<0.01). Cholangiography increased the total charges for the operation by almost $700 (p<0.01). Cholangiograms were performed successfully in 94.6% of the patients and changed the operative management in 4 (7.5%) patients. There was 1 (1.9%) false negative study. Intra-operative cholangiography did not reveal aberrant bile ducts at risk of injury from the operative dissection. There was no mortality or cholangiogram-related morbidity in either group. In follow-up ranging from 2-12 months, there has been no clinical evidence of bile duct injury or retained common bile duct stones. In summary, in patients without indications for cholangiography, the performance of static cholangiograms markedly increased the operative time and cost of laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The operative management of a minority of patients was changed by the information obtained, but laparoscopic cholecystectomy may be performed safely in the absence of cholangiograms with little risk of injury to the major ductal system or retained calculi.
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