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HPB Surgery
Volume 2 (1990), Issue 1, Pages 7-13

Bile Peritonitis in Acute Cholecystitis

Department of Surgery, Lund University, S–221 85 Lund, Sweden

Received 16 November 1988

Copyright © 1990 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A review of all patients treated for acute cholecystitis (n=5848) during an 18-year period (1969–1986) at two hospitals (one practising early surgery in patients with acute cholecystitis and the other not) disclosed that 104 (1.8%) had bile within the abdominal cavity at surgery; 71 with a visible perforation of the gallbladder and 33 without. The bile was infected in 82% of performed cultures (most commonly with Escherichia coli). Mortality was 7.7% (8/104 patients), being 20% (4/20)in the hospital practising delayed surgery and 5% (4/84) in the hospital practising early surgery (p<0.10). Infectious complications were responsible for the deaths by leading to multiple organ failure with pulmonary or renal insufficiency or gastro-intestinal bleeding. The timing of surgery was the only factor that had prognostic significance, i.e. the longer the hospital delay before surgery the higher the mortality, although elderly patients or patients with perforation tended to have a worse prognosis. In conclusion, the results of this study indicated that early surgery is important in patients with acute cholecystitis as a means of lowering mortality in bile peritonitis in this condition.