The use of laparoscopic cholecystectomy in pregnant women has been slow to gain wide acceptance for two reasons: one is the potential for mechanical problems related to the pregnant uterus and the other is fear of fetal injury resulting from instrumentation or the pneumoperitoneum, To assess the effects of laparoscopic cholecystectomy on both the mother and the unborn fetus, we reviewed our surgical experience over a 5-year period analyzing indications for the procedure along with complications and outcome. During this 5-year period, 22 patients ranging in age from 17 to 31 years underwent laparoscopic cholecystectomy during pregnancy. Gestational ages ranged from 5 to 31 weeks with two patients being in the first trimester, 16 in the second, and four in the third. The primary indications for surgical intervention were persistent nausea, vomiting, pain, and inability to eat in 17 patients, acute cholecystitis in three, and choledocholithiasis in two. In all patients a pneumoperitoneum was established by means of a closed technique starting in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. Two of the 22 patients also underwent successful transcystic common bile duct exploration with removal of common duct stones. All 22 patients survived the surgical procedure without complications, and there were no fetal deaths or premature births related to the procedure. Based on the preceding results, it would appear that laparoscopic cholecystectomy during pregnancy is safe for both the mother and the unborn fetus. Indications for this procedure should include stringent criteria such as unrelenting biliary tract symptoms or the complications of cholelithiasis, If at all possible, when laparoscopic cholecystectomy is indicated, it should be performed either in the second trimester or early in the third.
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