Background: The 'classical' biliary injury usually involves misidentification of the common bile duct as the cystic duct. The purpose of this study was to determine if the method of cholecystectomy, specifically the 'infundibular technique,' might be a contributing factor in this injury. Study Design: Twenty-one operative notes of patients who were referred with injury to the common bile duct were examined. Notes were classified as to informativeness. Patient and operative variables potentially related to injury were searched for. Results: Inflammation was the main patient variable associated with injury. The main operative variable was that in most of the injuries the cystic duct was isolated and divided as the first step in the procedure. Often the operative note contained a statement indicating that the surgeon believed that the 'cystic' duct (actually the common bile duct) was emanating from the infundibulum of the gallbladder and that this was the anatomic rationale for identification of the cystic duct. In no case was the triangle of Calot completely dissected before injury. Conclusions: The cystic duct may be hidden in some patients having laparoscopic cholecystectomy, especially in the presence of inflammation. This may lead to the deceptive appearance of a false infundibulum that misleads the surgeon into identifying the common duct as the cystic duct. Biliary injury is more likely when cystic duct identification is made by relying solely on the appearance of the junction of the cystic duct with the infundibulum of the gallbladder, and this technique should be abandoned. (C) 2000 by the American College of Surgeons.