Hartmann's gallbladder pouch revisited 60 years later
Background: Hartmann's gallbladder pouch was the subject of an article in The Lancet 60 years ago. It has regained new interest in view of laparoscopic cholecystectomy. However, different opinions exist with regard to its incidence and nature. To elucidate these discrepancies, a descriptive study was performed with regard to the incidence and morphology of Hartmann's pouch. Methods: Gallbladders were obtained after elective laparoscopic cholecystectomy. In addition, gallbladders were obtained during routine postmortem examination. The gallbladders were divided in two groups: those with Hartmann's pouch and those without Hartmann's pouch. All the gallbladders were examined macroscopically and microscopically. Fisher's Exact Probability Test (p < 0.05, two-tailed) was used to analyze the data. Results: A total of 98 gallbladders were examined: 49 obtained after laparoscopic or open cholecystectomy and 49 obtained after postmortem examination. Among the gallbladders with Hartmann's pouch (n = 51), 65% contained stones and 35% had no stones. Among the gallbladders without Hartmann's pouch, 43% contained stones and 57% had no stones. Macroscopically, in all the gallbladders with Hartmann's pouch, the pouch was observed to result from adhesions between the cystic duct and the neck of the gallbladder. After cleavage of these adhesions, the phenomenon of Hartmann's pouch was abolished in all cases. Conclusions: Hartmann's gallbladder pouch is a frequent but inconstant feature of normal and pathologic human gallbladders. There is a significant association between the presence of Hartmann's pouch and stones (p < 0.05). Adhesions between the cystic duct and the neck of the gallbladder are responsible for Hartmann's pouch. Consequently, Hartmann's gallbladder pouch is a morphologic rather than an anatomic entity.