Cholecystectomy and treatment for inguinal, femoral, umbilical, or abdominal hernia are common surgeries and are considered routine in Germany. In an original article in the current edition of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 112: 535-43), Ulrike Nimptsch and Thomas Mansky show that fewer than 0.5% of patients die as a result of such surgeries. However, in those who do die risks are frequently apparent even before surgery.
Between 2009 and 2013, 731 000 cholecystectomies and 1 023 000 herniotomies took place in Germany. Over 2400 of the patients died: on average, one in 250 cholecystectomy patients (0.4%) and one in 770 herniotomy patients (0.13%). The data shows that those who died were more likely to suffer health risks—such as older age or concomitant illnesses such as heart failure or chronic lung disease—than patients who survived their treatment. Health scientists recommend that risks be better diagnosed and treatment further optimized before surgery.