Background Few randomized clinical trials focus on patients' symptoms of the first post-operative week following outpatient (OPS) versus inpatient (IPS) laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC). The objective was to compare these treatment modalities with regard to patients' perceptions of pain and other post-operative symptoms, amount of distress, level of anxiety and general state of health during the first post-operative week.
Methods One hundred patients were randomized. Seventy-three LC patients were valid for efficacy (OPS n = 34, IPS n = 39). Data were collected by means of questionnaires.
Results The main result was that no differences were seen between the groups regarding the occurrence of post-operative symptoms or symptom distress. Approximately 90% of the patients in both groups perceived pain, reduced mobility and tiredness on day 1. Nausea and loss of appetite were reported by half of the patients. Post-operative day 1, both groups reported much or very much distress related to pain and reduced mobility (approximately 40%) and nausea (approximately 20%). Although both groups reported less symptoms on day 7, one-third still experienced pain, but only one patient reported this to be distressing.
Conclusion Laparoscopic cholecystectomy patients in both groups recover equally well, indicating that a greater proportion of LC patients should be offered the outpatient modality.