Objectives: To investigate clinical features and outcomes in patients with acute cholecystitis with gall bladder perforation receiving open cholecystectomy or percutaneous transhepatic gall bladder drainage in the emergency department. Methods: From 1996 through 2005, 33 patients with non-traumatic gall bladder perforation, among 585 patients with acute cholecystitis, were enrolled. Patients were divided into two groups: open cholecystectomy in 16 patients and percutaneous transhepatic gall bladder drainage in 17 patients. Medical records, including demographic data, past history of systemic diseases or gallbladder stones, initial clinical presentations, laboratory data, physical status, therapeutic interventions, and outcomes, were analysed. Results: Mean patient age was 72.6 years (range 54-92 years). 28 patients (84.8%) were male. Median time of symptom onset before emergency department diagnosis was 5 days (range 0.5-30 days). Estimated incidence of gall bladder perforation was 5.6% (33/585). 27 patients (81.8%) had gallstones operatively or in image studies. All patients had either right upper quadrant pain/tenderness or epigastric pain/ tenderness. Only 9 (27.3%) patients had positive Murphy's sign. Six patients in the percutaneous transhepatic gall bladder drainage group received further open cholecystectomy. Overall mortality was 24.2% (8/ 33). The direct cause of death was disease related sepsis in all patients. Patients receiving percutaneous transhepatic gall bladder drainage had a higher survival rate than those receiving open cholecystectomy (100% vs 50%, p<0.001). No differences in complications and length of hospital stay of survivors were observed between groups. Conclusions: In this study, we delineated clinical features of patients with gall bladder perforation. Better clinical outcome is observed for percutaneous transhepatic gall bladder drainage, and this is suggested as an initial therapeutic choice, especially in high risk patients who are likely to need surgery.
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