Experience in the treatment of acute cholecystitis with percutaneous cholecystostomy in 29 high-risk and elderly patients is reported. The treatment group included 14 men and 15 women, 21 of whom were over 70 years of age. The suspected clinical diagnosis of acute cholecystitis was confirmed in all cases by ultrasonography (accuracy: 95.6\%). The percutaneous cholecystostomy was successful in 27 of 29 cases and these patients had a sudden improvement in their clinical condition; failure of the procedure was due in one patient to dislodgement of the catheter and in another patient to the guide-wire slipping out of the gallbladder. Six patients complained of pain radiating to the right shoulder which disappeared within 30-60 minutes after the procedure. Twenty-three of the 27 patients subsequently underwent elective cholecystectomy. In 22 patients the ultrasonographic findings were compared with the histology; thus enabling us to establish an ultrasonographic staging of acute cholecystitis related to the seriousness of the disease. Percutaneous cholecystostomy is the treatment of choice in high-risk patients, in the elderly, as well as in young patients with impending perforation.
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