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Gallbladder Empyema Treatment & Management

  • Author: Benjamin Pace, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Julian Katz, MD  more...
 
Updated: Dec 23, 2014
 

Medical Care

Intravenous antibiotic therapy is an adjunct to urgent decompression and/or resection of the gallbladder when empyema is likely. The choice of antibiotic is based on the organisms presumed to be involved (see Causes). Early in the course of the disease, good results are achieved with the adjuvant administration of ampicillin or a first- or second-generation cephalosporin. In more advanced cases associated with perforation and/or generalized sepsis, triple antibiotic therapy that includes an aminoglycoside (usually gentamicin), ampicillin or a cephalosporin, and metronidazole (anaerobic coverage) is advised.[1]

Antibiotic coverage is modified by culture results and the bacterial resistance encountered in the local hospital setting.

Urgent decompression is the goal of therapy for empyema of the gallbladder. In patients who are hemodynamically unstable or in individuals in whom surgery is contraindicated because of significant comorbid conditions, transhepatic drainage of the gallbladder under radiologic guidance may serve as a temporizing or final procedure. Though rapid and marked improvement in the patient's condition usually follows, complete resolution without further septic complication (mandating further intervention) is unpredictable.[2]

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Surgical Care

Surgical decompression and resection of the affected gallbladder is the criterion standard of therapy. An advanced laparoscopic surgeon may treat empyema of the gallbladder (without significant gangrenous changes or perforation) with a laparoscopic procedure.[3] Initial decompression may be accomplished under radiographic guidance immediately before the procedure or via intraoperative, laparoscopically guided needle drainage, which allows for more facile manipulation of the gallbladder during the cholecystectomy portion of the procedure.

The conversion-to-open and complication rates reported in the literature for laparoscopic treatment of empyema vary widely. However, they are all significantly higher than the comparative rates reported in the same studies for laparoscopic treatment of uncomplicated acute cholecystitis. Laparoscopic subtotal cholecystectomy is acceptable only if the encountered pericholecystic inflammation is so severe as to preclude safe dissection via either a laparoscopic procedure or an open procedure.[4]

Importantly, the complications are related to the advanced disease process and not to the approach. In skilled hands, no increase is observed in the incidence of laparoscopic surgical misadventure with empyema of the gallbladder. Thus, despite the higher incidence of conversion to an open procedure (40-80%), it is quite reasonable to initially proceed with a laparoscopic procedure.

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Consultations

When empyema of the gallbladder is considered, urgent consultation with gastroenterologists and surgeons is essential.

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Benjamin Pace, MD, FACS Chief, Division of Breast Surgery, Department of Surgery, Queens Hospital Center; Associate Professor of Surgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Benjamin Pace, MD, FACS is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, Medical Society of the State of New York

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Sita Chokhavatia, MD, MBBS Associate Fellowship Director, Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Sita Chokhavatia, MD, MBBS is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Gastroenterology, American College of Physicians, American Gastroenterological Association, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Chief Editor

Julian Katz, MD Clinical Professor of Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine

Julian Katz, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Gastroenterology, American College of Physicians, American Gastroenterological Association, American Geriatrics Society, American Medical Association, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics, American Trauma Society, Association of American Medical Colleges, Physicians for Social Responsibility

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Maurice A Cerulli, MD, FACP, FACG, FASGE, AGAF Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University; Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Hofstra Medical School

Maurice A Cerulli, MD, FACP, FACG, FASGE, AGAF is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, American College of Gastroenterology, American College of Physicians, New York Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, American Gastroenterological Association, American Medical Association, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

Simmy Bank, MD Chair, Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Long Island Jewish Hospital, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Bruce Morel, MD, FACS Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Bruce Morel, MD, FACS is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, and Medical Society of the State of New York

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

References
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