Asymptomatic gallstones. What to do in patients undergoing colonic surgery for cancer?

F. Pezzolla, D. Lorusso, V. Guerra, I. Giorgio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Twenty-three patients who underwent elective surgery for colorectal cancer in our hospital between 1983 and 1989, underwent concomitant cholecystectomy for asymptomatic gallstones. In order to assess whether additional cholecystectomy increases postoperative morbidity and mortality, a comparison was made between these cases and 23 controlled patients (without gallstones) matched for sex, age (+/- 3 years), Dukes stage and type of primary colonic surgery. The duration of postoperative stay was similar in the two groups (14.1 +/- 4.5 days vs 12.4 +/- 2.3 days). Postoperative complications were more frequent among the case patients than among the controls (34.8% vs 8.7%, p = 0.04), and the same was true for the mortality (8.7% vs 0%). During the same period, another 11 patients with asymptomatic cholelithiasis were operated on for colorectal cancer but in these patients gallstones were left in place. Two of the patients died postoperatively and only one of the remaining 9 (11.2%) had an episode of biliary pain. The results of our study would suggest that in patients undergoing surgery for colorectal cancer the risk entailed in carrying out an additional cholecystectomy for asymptomatic gallstones is greater than the risk of future morbidity caused by gallstones left in place.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-157
Number of pages4
JournalActa Chirurgica Belgica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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