Incidental cholelithiasis was encountered at the time of celiotomy in 56 patients. Thirty-three of the patients underwent concomitant cholecystectomy. The overall morbidity and mortality were 27 and 3 percent, respectively, but only one complication (3 percent) was clearly related to the cholecystectomy. Cholecystectomy was not performed in 23 patients. Within 6 months of primary celiotomy, acute cholecystitis developed in 11 patients, 3 had attacks of biliary colic, and 2 became jaundiced. Fifteen patients (65 percent) underwent cholecystectomy and 6 of the 15 (40 percent) required common bile duct exploration. Concomitant cholecystectomy adds minimal morbidity to the operation and should be performed unless specific contraindications exist. Left untreated, cholelithiasis becomes symptomatic and leads to subsequent operation in most patients, which may require a more extensive procedure producing greater morbidity.
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