Five to 22 % of the adult Western population has gallstones. Among them, 13 to 22 % become symptomatic during their lifetime. Cholecystectomy is the preferred treatment for symptomatic cholecystolithiasis. Remarkably, cholecystectomy provides symptom relief in only 60-70 % of patients. The objective of this trial is to compare the effectiveness of usual (operative) care with a restrictive strategy using a standardized work-up with stepwise selection for cholecystectomy in patients with gallstones and abdominal complaints.
Design and methods:
The SECURE-trial is designed as a multicenter, randomized, parallel-arm, non-inferiority trial in patients with abdominal symptoms and ultrasound proven gallstones or sludge. If patients meet the inclusion criteria they will be randomized to either usual care or the restrictive strategy. Patients in the usual care group will be treated according to the physician's knowledge and preference. Patients in the restrictive care group will be treated with interval evaluation and stepwise selection for laparoscopic cholecystectomy. In this stepwise selection, patients strictly meeting the preselected criteria for symptomatic cholecystolithiasis will be offered a cholecystectomy. Patients not meeting these criteria will be assessed for other diagnoses and re-evaluated at 3-monthly intervals. Follow-up consists of web-based questionnaires at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. The main end point of this trial is defined as the proportion of patients being pain-free at 12 months follow-up. Pain will be assessed with the Izbicki Pain Score and Gallstone Symptom Score. Secondary endpoints will be the proportion of patients with complications due to gallstones or cholecystectomy, the association between the patients' symptoms and treatment and work performance, and ultimately, cost-effectiveness.
The SECURE trial is the first randomized controlled trial examining the effectiveness of usual care versus restrictive care in patients with symptomatic gallstones. The outcome of this trial will inform clinicians whether a more restrictive strategy can minimize persistent pain in post-operative patients at least as good as usual care does, but at a lower cholecystectomy rate.