Subtotal Fenestrating Cholecystectomy: A Safe and Effective Approach to the Difficult Gallbladder

Published:October 27, 2022DOI:



      Subtotal laparoscopic cholecystectomy (SUB) is an alternative to total laparoscopic cholecystectomy (TOT) when the critical view of safety (CVS) cannot be achieved. Little is known about the clinical factors and postoperative outcomes associated with SUB. The objective was to determine predictive factors and outcomes of SUB as compared to TOT.


      Clinical data from patients admitted from our emergency department to the acute care surgery service who underwent SUB or TOT by an acute care surgery surgeon for acute biliary disease (2017-2019) were reviewed. Wilcoxon rank-sum and Fisher's exact tests were used.


      355 patients underwent cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis; 28 were SUB (7.9%). SUB patients were more likely to be older (57 versus 43 y; P = 0.015), male (60.7% versus 39.3%; P < 0.001), have a history of cirrhosis or liver disease (14.3% versus 2.1%; P = 0.007), and have a higher Charlson-Comorbidity Index (1 versus 0, P = 0.041). SUB had greater leukocytosis (14.6 versus 10.9; P < 0.001), higher total bilirubin (0.9 versus 0.6; P = 0.021), and a higher Tokyo grade (2 versus 1; P < 0.001), and had operative findings including gallbladder decompression (82.1% versus 23.2%; P < 0.001) and inability to achieve the CVS (78.6% versus 3.4%; P < 0.001). SUB patients had an increased length of stay (4 versus 2 d; P < 0.001) and more 1-y readmissions. No major vascular injuries occurred in either group with one biliary injury in the TOT group.


      SUB patients present with more significant markers of biliary disease and have more complicated intraoperative and postoperative courses. However, the lack of biliary or vascular injuries suggests that SUB may represent a safe alternative when the CVS cannot be achieved.


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