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Chemical ablation of the gallbladder

Clinical application and long-term observations

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We investigated whether minicholecystostomy followed by chemical ablation of the gallbladder could be used as a alternative to cholecystectomy in patients at high risk for complications of surgery.


From January 1990 through January 2003, 34 patients at high risk underwent minicholecystostomy. Six weeks after the operation, microwave irradiation was provided to burn the mucosa of the cystic duct at locations at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock around the orifice. Each location was treated eight times at 50 mA for 10 sec. Then chemical ablation of the gallbladder was performed by infusing 95% ethanol into the gallbladder cavity for 30 min. For each sclerosis course, the procedure was repeated every 4 h for a total of eight times. Approximately 2 weeks later, the drainage tube was removed from the gallbladder after cholecystography showed that no cavity other than the lumen of the tube remained in the gallbladder.


Patients tolerated the procedure well and were followed with ultrasonography for 2–14 years (mean, 9). Twenty-nine patients had no complications or side effects, and five patients developed a 1.5- to 3- cm mucocele in the gallbladder. The long-term success rate of sclerotherapy was 85.3% (29/34). No recurrent cholecystitis, new stone or formation, canceration were encountered at the site of the gallbladder.


Minicholecystostomy followed by chemical ablation of the gallbladder was a safe, effective, and simple procedure for treating high-risk patients with acute cholecystitis and/or cholelithiasis.

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Correspondence to Z. Xu.

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Xu, Z., Wang, L., Zhang, N. et al. Chemical ablation of the gallbladder. Surg Endosc 19, 693–696 (2005).

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