Recurrence of idiopathic acute pancreatitis after cholecystectomy: systematic review and meta-analysis

D. S. Umans, N. D. Hallensleben, R. C. Verdonk, S. A. W. Bouwense, P. Fockens, H. C. van Santvoort, R. P. Voermans, M. G. Besselink, M. J. Bruno, J. E. van Hooft

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Occult biliary disease has been suggested as a frequent underlying cause of idiopathic acute pancreatitis (IAP). Cholecystectomy has been proposed as a strategy to prevent recurrent IAP. The aim of this systematic review was to determine the efficacy of cholecystectomy in reducing the risk of recurrent IAP. Methods: PubMed, Embase and Cochrane Library databases were searched systematically for studies including patients with IAP treated by cholecystectomy, with data on recurrence of pancreatitis. Studies published before 1980 or including chronic pancreatitis and case reports were excluded. The primary outcome was recurrence rate. Quality was assessed using the Newcastle–Ottawa Scale. Meta-analyses were undertaken to calculate risk ratios using a random-effects model with the inverse-variance method. Results: Overall, ten studies were included, of which nine were used in pooled analyses. The study population consisted of 524 patients with 126 cholecystectomies. Of these 524 patients, 154 (29·4 (95 per cent c.i. 25·5 to 33·3) per cent) had recurrent disease. The recurrence rate was significantly lower after cholecystectomy than after conservative management (14 of 126 (11·1 per cent) versus 140 of 398 (35·2 per cent); risk ratio 0·44, 95 per cent c.i. 0·27 to 0·71). Even in patients in whom IAP was diagnosed after more extensive diagnostic testing, including endoscopic ultrasonography or magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography, the recurrence rate appeared to be lower after cholecystectomy (4 of 36 (11 per cent) versus 42 of 108 (38·9 per cent); risk ratio 0·41, 0·16 to 1·07). Conclusion: Cholecystectomy after an episode of IAP reduces the risk of recurrent pancreatitis. This implies that current diagnostics are insufficient to exclude a biliary cause.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-199
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Surgery
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Acute Disease
  • Cholecystectomy/adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Pancreatitis/etiology
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Recurrence


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