TUESDAY, Aug. 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- For pregnant women experiencing painful gallstones, immediate surgery to remove the infected gallbladder may be better than postponing the operation until after childbirth, a new study suggests.
Acute gallbladder disease is called cholecystitis.
"Current guidelines recommend surgery for acute cholecystitis during pregnancy, but many patients and providers delay surgery," said researcher Dr. Francesco Palazzo. He's vice chair of surgery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, in Philadelphia.
"We wanted to know how often the guidelines were followed, and whether following those guidelines did indeed improve outcomes for pregnant women," he said in a hospital news release.
For the study, Palazzo's team looked at the records of 6,390 pregnant women admitted to a hospital for cholecystitis between January 2010 and September 2015.
Despite guidelines, only 38% of the women had surgery to remove their gallbladders during pregnancy.
Pregnant women who did not have surgery were three times more likely to have complications at the birth of their child than those who had surgery, the researchers found.
Complications included stillbirth, poor fetal growth, preterm delivery, cesarean-section delivery, bleeding, blood clots and infections.
These differences were mostly due to increased risk for poor fetal growth, preterm delivery and C-section, the researchers found.
According to researcher Dr. Arturo Rios-Diaz, a surgical resident, "The data doesn't tell us exactly why these complications occurred, just that they were more common in women whose surgeries were delayed after accounting for differences between the groups."
Also, women who didn't have the surgery during pregnancy were 61% more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, and 95% more likely to be readmitted with a complication, the researchers noted.
These data show that there are risks with waiting out surgery, the researchers explained.
The report was published online recently in the journal Annals of Surgery.
For more on gallbladder disease, visit Harvard Medical School.
SOURCE: Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, news release, Aug. 5, 2020