How should we secure the cystic duct during laparoscopic cholecystectomy? A UK-wide survey of clinical practice and systematic review of the literature with meta-analysis

Thomas Arkle, Stephen Lam, Giles Toogood, Bhaskar Kumar

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Introduction: It is currently unknown which method of cystic duct closure is most effective at reducing the risk of bile leak after laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The aims of this work were to determine the most common closure methods used in the UK and review available evidence on which method has the lowest risk of bile leak.

Methods: We conducted an online survey through the Association of Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons (AUGIS). We also undertook a systematic review using PubMed, EMBASE, MEDLINE and the Cochrane Library for studies that compared different methods for cystic duct occlusion and reported postoperative bile leak.

Findings: There was significant variation in practice between consultant surgeons. For routine laparoscopic cholecystectomy metal clips were used most (64%) followed by locking polymer clips (33%) and suture ties (3%). In cases of a dilated cystic duct, preferences were locking polymer clips (60%), suture ties (30%) and metal clips (5%). We included six studies in our review with a total of 8,011 patients. Metal clips were associated with an increased odds of bile leak compared with locking polymer clips (OR 5.66, 95% CI 1.13–28.41, p=0.04) or suture ties (OR 4.17, 95% CI 0.72–24.31, p=0.12). Most studies were retrospective, unlikely to be adequately powered, and vulnerable to selection bias.

Conclusions: Limited available evidence suggests that metal clips have the highest risk of bile leak, but results are not strong enough to recommend a change in current clinical practice. A trial is now required to determine the best method of cystic duct closure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-654
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of The Royal College of Surgeons of England
Issue number9
Early online date23 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • Bile
  • Bile ducts
  • Biliary tract diseases
  • Cholecystectomy
  • Laparoscopic
  • Postoperative period

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