Less is more in the difficult gallbladder: recent evolution of subtotal cholecystectomy in a single HPB unit

Michael T. LeCompte, Keenan J. Robbins, Greg A. Williams, Dominic E. Sanford, Chet W. Hammill, Ryan C. Fields, William G. Hawkins, Steven M. Strasberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction: Subtotal cholecystectomy (SC) is a technique to manage the difficult gallbladder and avoid hazardous dissection and biliary injury. Until recently it was used infrequently. However, because of reduced exposure to open total cholecystectomy in resident training, we recently adopted subtotal cholecystectomy as the bail-out procedure of choice for resident teaching. This study reports our experience and outcomes with subtotal cholecystectomy in the years immediately preceding adoption and since adoption. Methods: A retrospective analysis was conducted of patients undergoing SC from July 2010 to June 2019. Outcomes, including bile leak, reoperation and need for additional procedures, were analyzed. Complications were graded by the Modified Accordion Grading Scale (MAGS). Results: 1571 cholecystectomies were performed of which 71 were SC. Subtotal cholecystectomy patients had several indicators of difficulty including prior attempted cholecystectomy and previous cholecystostomy tube insertion. The most common indication for SC was marked inflammation in the hepatocystic triangle (51%). As our experience increased, fewer patients required open conversion to accomplish SC and SC was completed laparoscopically, usually subtotal fenestrating cholecystectomy (SFC). Most patients (85%) had a drain placed and 28% were discharged with a drain. The highest MAGS complication observed was grade 3 (11 patients, 15%). Six patients had a bile leak from the cystic duct resolved by ERCP. At mean follow-up of about 1 year no patient returned with recurrent symptoms. Conclusions: Subtotal fenestrating cholecystectomy is a useful technique to avoid biliary injury in the difficult gallbladder and can be performed with very satisfactory rates of bile fistula, ERCP, and reoperation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3249-3257
Number of pages9
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Difficult cholecystectomy
  • Difficult gallbladder
  • Fenestrating cholecystectomy
  • Modified accordion grading system (MAGS)
  • Reconstituting cholecystectomy
  • Subtotal cholecystectomy


Dive into the research topics of 'Less is more in the difficult gallbladder: recent evolution of subtotal cholecystectomy in a single HPB unit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this