Bile duct injury and morbidity following cholecystectomy: a need for improvement

Meredith Barrett, Horacio J. Asbun, Hung Lung Chien, L. Michael Brunt, Dana A. Telem

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97 Scopus citations


Background: Bile duct injury (BDI) remains the most dreaded complication following cholecystectomy with serious repercussions for the surgeon, patient and entire healthcare system. In the absence of registries, the true incidence of BDI in the United States remains unknown. We aim to identify the incidence of BDI requiring operative intervention and overall complications after cholecystectomy. Methods: Utilizing the Truven Marketscan® research database, 554,806 patients who underwent cholecystectomy in calendar years 2011–2014 were identified using ICD-9 procedure and diagnosis codes. The final study population consisted of 319,184 patients with at least 1 year of continuous enrollment and who met inclusion criteria. Patients were tracked for BDI and other complications. Hospital cost information was obtained from 2015 Premier data. Results: Of the 319,184 patients who were included in the study, there were a total of 741 (0.23%) BDI identified requiring operative intervention. The majority of injuries were identified at the time of the index procedure (n = 533, 72.9%), with 102 (13.8%) identified within 30-days of surgery and the remainder (n = 106, 14.3%) between 31 and 365 days. The operative cumulative complication rate within 30 days of surgery was 9.84%. The most common complications occurring at the index procedure were intestinal disorders (1.2%), infectious (1%), and shock (0.8%). The most common complications identified within 30-days of surgery included infection (1.5%), intestinal disorders (0.7%) and systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) (0.7%) for cumulative rates of infection, intestinal disorders, shock, and SIRS of 2.0, 1.9, 1.0, and 0.8%, respectively. Conclusion: BDI rate requiring operative intervention have plateaued and remains at 0.23% despite increased experience with laparoscopy. Moreover, cholecystectomy is associated with a 9.84% 30-day morbidity rate. A clear opportunity is identified to improve the quality and safety of this operation. Continued attention to educational programs and techniques aimed at reducing patient harm and improving surgeon skill are imperative.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1683-1688
Number of pages6
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Bile duct injury
  • Laparoscopic cholecystectomy
  • Postoperative complications


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