Systematic Review
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2017. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Aug 7, 2017; 23(29): 5438-5450
Published online Aug 7, 2017. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v23.i29.5438
Laparoscopic ultrasonography as an alternative to intraoperative cholangiography during laparoscopic cholecystectomy
Alexandra Dili, Claude Bertrand
Alexandra Dili, Claude Bertrand, Unit of Digestive, Endocrine and General Surgery, Department of Surgery, University Hospital - Godinne, Université catholique de Louvain, CHU UCL Namur, 5530 Yvoir, Belgium
Author contributions: Both authors equally contributed to this paper with conception and design of the study, literature review and analysis, drafting and critical revision and editing, and final approval of the final version.
Conflict-of-interest statement: No potential conflicts of interest.
Data sharing statement: These data were extracted from the referenced articles and are already in the public domain.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Correspondence to: Dr. Claude Bertrand, Unit of Digestive, Endocrine and General Surgery, Department of Surgery, University Hospital - Godinne, Université catholique de Louvain, CHU UCL Namur, Av. Docteur G. Thérasse 1, 5530 Yvoir, Belgium.
Telephone: +32-81-423051 Fax: +32-81-423051
Received: January 30, 2017
Peer-review started: February 8, 2017
First decision: March 3, 2017
Revised: April 8, 2017
Accepted: June 19, 2017
Article in press: June 19, 2017
Published online: August 7, 2017

To assess the role of laparoscopic ultrasound (LUS) as a substitute for intraoperative cholangiography (IOC) during cholecystectomy.


We present a MEDLINE and PubMed literature search, having used the key-words “laparoscopic intraoperative ultrasound” and “laparoscopic cholecystectomy”. All relevant English language publications from 2000 to 2016 were identified, with data extracted for the role of LUS in the anatomical delineation of the biliary tract, detection of common bile duct stones (CBDS), prevention or early detection of biliary duct injury (BDI), and incidental findings during laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Data for the role of LUS vs IOC in complex situations (i.e., inflammatory disease/fibrosis) were specifically analyzed.


We report data from eighteen reports, 13 prospective non-randomized trials, 5 retrospective trials, and two meta-analyses assessing diagnostic accuracy, with one analysis also assessing costs, duration of the examination, and anatomical mapping. Overall, LUS was shown to provide highly sensitive mapping of the extra-pancreatic biliary anatomy in 92%-100% of patients, with more difficulty encountered in delineation of the intra-pancreatic segment of the biliary tract (73.8%-98%). Identification of vascular and biliary variations has been documented in two studies. Although inflammatory disease hampered accuracy, LUS was still advantageous vs IOC in patients with obscured anatomy. LUS can be performed before any dissection and repeated at will to guide the surgeon especially when hilar mapping is difficult due to fibrosis and inflammation. In two studies LUS prevented conversion in 91% of patients with difficult scenarios. Considering CBDS detection, LUS sensitivity and specificity were 76%-100% and 96.2%-100%, respectively. LUS allowed the diagnosis/treatment of incidental findings of adjacent organs. No valuable data for BDI prevention or detection could be retrieved, even if no BDI was documented in the reports analyzed. Literature analysis proved LUS as a safe, quick, non-irradiating, cost-effective technique, which is comparatively well known although largely under-utilized, probably due to the perception of a difficult learning curve.


We highlight the advantages and limitations of laparoscopic ultrasound during cholecystectomy, and underline its value in difficult scenarios when the anatomy is obscured.

Keywords: Intraoperative ultrasound, Laparoscopic cholecystectomy, Bile duct injury, Choledocolithiasis, Biliary anomalies

Core tip: Laparoscopic ultrasound (LUS) during cholecystectomy allows a non-invasive study of the biliary tract, with an excellent ability to detect common bile duct stones and identify anatomy. Unlike intraoperative cholangiography, LUS can be performed before Calot’s triangle dissection, which facilitates the mapping of biliary and hilar structures during difficult scenarios such as severe inflammation and fibrosis. Cheap, quick, and non-irradiating LUS can be repeated at will during the operation. Adjacent organs can also be examined, allowing incidental findings. Our review of the recent literature highlights the advantages of LUS, despite its underuse, particularly in difficult cholecystectomies when the anatomy is obscured.