Cholecystitis in the octogenarian: Is laparoscopic cholecystectomy the best approach?

John Uecker, Mathis Adams, Kent Skipper, Ernest Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Management of biliary disease in the octogenarian has evolved over the last decade. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is now more commonly performed in this patient population. Octogenarians with biliary pathology frequently present with complications of acute disease such as biliary pancreatitis, choledocholithiasis, and acute cholecystitis. As a result, laparoscopic management in this patient population can frequently be more challenging than in younger patients. We retrospectively reviewed 70 patients who were 80 years of age and older who underwent cholecystectomy at our institution for biliary tract disease. Seventeen patients presented to the Day Surgery unit for elective management of chronic biliary disease. Sixteen (94%) of these patients were attempted laparoscopically and one (6%) underwent open cholecystectomy. Two patients attempted laparoscopically were converted to open surgery (conversion rate 12.5%). Average length of hospital stay was 3.7 days for those treated laparoscopically and 11 days for patients treated with open cholecystectomy. There were three complications (19%) in this group and no deaths. The remaining 53 patients presented via the emergency room with acute complications of cholelithiasis. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy was attempted in 28 (52%) and open cholecystectomy was performed in 25 (48%) patients. Ten (37%) of the patients attempted laparoscopically were converted to an open procedure. Average length of stay in this group was 11.7 days for those treated laparoscopically and 15.7 days for patients managed with open technique. There were ten (56%) complications in the laparoscopic group and five (14%) complications in the open group. There were four deaths (22%) among those treated laparoscopically and three deaths (8.6%) in the open cholecystectomy group. Comorbid conditions were common in the patients with acute biliary pathology and those presenting for elective cholecystectomy. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the procedure of choice in the elective management of biliary tract disease in the octogenarian. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy has no benefit with respect to morbidity and mortality over open cholecystectomy in the management of acute biliary tract disease in this elderly population. When possible, chronic cholecystitis in the elderly should be managed with elective laparoscopic cholecystectomy rather than waiting for complications to develop.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)637-640
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number7
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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