Post-operative outcomes for patients with liver-related ascites undergoing non-emergent laparoscopic cholecystectomy



Surgical procedures in patients with cirrhosis and associated ascites carry significant morbidity and mortality. However, these patients often undergo non-emergent but necessary procedures such as laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The purpose of this study is to determine the impact of cirrhosis with ascites on non-emergent laparoscopic cholecystectomy.


The ACS-NSQIP database was queried from 2005 to 2017 for patients undergoing non-emergent laparoscopic cholecystectomy with or without intra-operative cholangiogram. Groups were propensity score matched for age, sex, BMI, smoking, inpatient status, ASA Class, presence of pre-operative SIRS/sepsis, and the individual components of the 5-item modified frailty index.


346,105 patients were identified, 591 of which who had liver-related ascites. Patients without ascites were matched at a 5:1 ratio, producing 2955 controls. Patients with ascites had significantly higher rates of overall morbidity (15.6% vs. 11.3%, p = 0.0039), mortality (3.6% vs. 1.5%, p = 0.0020), and longer hospitalizations (7.4 vs. 4.4 days, p < 0.0001). Patients with ascites and a MELD score less than or equal to 9 had no difference in morbidity (p = 0.1124) or mortality (p = 0.6021) when compared to patients without ascites. Patients with ascites and a MELD score greater than 9 had significantly higher rates of both morbidity (25.8%, p = 0.0056) and mortality (7.1%, p = 0.0333).


Patients with cirrhosis and ascites have many comorbidities in addition to their liver disease. These patients are at significant risk for both morbidity and mortality related to non-emergent laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Surgeons should proceed with caution for patients with ascites and MELD scores greater than 9. These cases should only be performed by surgeons comfortable with difficult gallbladders at facilities equipped to take care of cirrhotic patients.

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The authors received no funding or other support for the creation of this manuscript to include the following organizations: National Institutes of Health (NIH); Wellcome Trust; Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI); and other(s).

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Correspondence to Christopher G. Yheulon.

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Drs. Vreeland, Balla, Lin, Davis, and Yheulon have no conflicts of interest or any relevant financial ties to disclose.

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Vreeland, T.J., Balla, F.M., Lin, E. et al. Post-operative outcomes for patients with liver-related ascites undergoing non-emergent laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Surg Endosc 35, 884–890 (2021).

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  • Laparoscopic
  • Cholecystectomy
  • Cirrhosis
  • Ascites
  • Mortality