Single-incision laparoscopic cholecystectomy versus conventional four-port laparoscopic cholecystectomy: a systematic review and meta-analysis
BACKGROUND Traditionally, laparoscopic cholecystectomy is performed using two 10-mm ports and two 5-mm ports. Recently, a reduction in the number of ports has been suggested as a modification of the standard technique with a view to decreasing pain and improving cosmesis. The safety and effectiveness of using fewer-than-four ports has not yet been established. OBJECTIVES To assess the benefits (such as improvement in cosmesis and earlier return to activity) and harms (such as increased complications) of using fewer-than-four ports (fewer-than-four-ports laparoscopic cholecystectomy) versus four ports in people undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy for any reason (symptomatic gallstones, acalculous cholecystitis, gallbladder polyp, or any other condition). SEARCH METHODS We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; Issue 8, 2013), MEDLINE, EMBASE, Science Citation Index Expanded, and the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform portal to September 2013. SELECTION CRITERIA We included all randomised clinical trials comparing fewer-than-four ports versus four ports, that is, with standard laparoscopic cholecystectomy that is performed with two ports of at least 10-mm incision and two ports of at least 5-mm incision. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS Two review authors independently identified the trials and extracted the data. We analysed the data using both the fixed-effect and the random-effects models. For each outcome, we calculated the risk ratio (RR) or mean difference (MD) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) based on intention-to-treat analysis, whenever possible. MAIN RESULTS We found nine trials with 855 participants that randomised participants to fewer-than-four-ports laparoscopic cholecystectomy (n = 427) versus four-port laparoscopic cholecystectomy (n = 428). Most trials included low anaesthetic risk participants undergoing elective laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Seven of the nine trials used a single port laparoscopic cholecystectomy and the remaining two trials used three-port laparoscopic cholecystectomy as the experimental intervention. Only one trial including 70 participants had low risk of bias. Fewer-than-four-ports laparoscopic cholecystectomy could be completed successfully in more than 90% of participants in most trials. The remaining participants were mostly converted to four-port laparoscopic cholecystectomy but some participants had to undergo open cholecystectomy.There was no mortality in either group in the seven trials that reported mortality (318 participants in fewer-than-four-ports laparoscopic cholecystectomy group and 316 participants in four-port laparoscopic cholecystectomy group). The proportion of participants with serious adverse events was low in both treatment groups and the estimated RR was compatible with a reduction and substantial increased risk with the fewer-than-four-ports group (6/318 (1.9%)) and four-port laparoscopic cholecystectomy group (0/316 (0%)) (RR 3.93; 95% CI 0.86 to 18.04; 7 trials; 634 participants; very low quality evidence). The estimated difference in the quality of life (measured between 10 and 30 days) was imprecise (standardised mean difference (SMD) 0.18; 95% CI -0.05 to 0.42; 4 trials; 510 participants; very low quality evidence), as was the proportion of participants in whom the laparoscopic cholecystectomy had to be converted to open cholecystectomy between the groups (fewer-than-four ports 3/289 (adjusted proportion 1.2%) versus four port: 5/292 (1.7%); RR 0.68; 95% CI 0.19 to 2.35; 5 trials; 581 participants; very low quality evidence). The fewer-than-four-ports laparoscopic cholecystectomy took 14 minutes longer to complete (MD 14.44 minutes; 95% CI 5.95 to 22.93; 9 trials; 855 participants; very low quality evidence). There was no clear difference in hospital stay between the groups (MD -0.01 days; 95% CI -0.28 to 0.26; 6 trials; 731 participants) or in the proportion of participants discharged as day surgery (RR 0.92; 95% CI 0.70 to 1.22; 1 trial; 50 participants; very low quality evidence) between the two groups. The times taken to return to normal activity and work were shorter by two days in the fewer-than-four-ports group compared with four-port laparoscopic cholecystectomy (return to normal activity: MD -1.20 days; 95% CI -1.58 to -0.81; 2 trials; 325 participants; very low quality evidence; return to work: MD -2.00 days; 95% CI -3.31 to -0.69; 1 trial; 150 participants; very low quality evidence). There was no significant difference in cosmesis scores at 6 to 12 months between the two groups (SMD 0.37; 95% CI -0.10 to 0.84; 2 trials; 317 participants; very low quality evidence). AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS There is very low quality evidence that is insufficient to determine whether there is any significant clinical benefit in using fewer-than-four-ports laparoscopic cholecystectomy compared with four-port laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The safety profile of using fewer-than-four ports is yet to be established and fewer-than-four-ports laparoscopic cholecystectomy should be reserved for well-designed randomised clinical trials.