Percutaneous cholecystostomy (PC), a technique that consists of percutaneous catheter placement in the gallbladder lumen under imaging guidance, has become an alternative to surgical cholecystostomy in recent years. Indications of PC include calculous or acalculous cholecystitis, cholangitis, biliary obstruction and opacification of biliary ducts. It also provides a potential route for stone dissolution therapy and stone extraction. Under aseptic conditions and ultrasound guidance, using local anesthesia, the procedure is carried out by using either modified Seldinger technique or trocar technique. Transhepatic or transperitoneal puncture can be performed as an access route. Several days after the procedure transcatheter cholangiography is performed to assess the patency of cystic duct, presence of gallstones and catheter position. The tract is considered mature in the absence of leakage to the peritoneal cavity, subhepatic, subcapsular, or subdiaphragmatic spaces. Response rates to PC in the literature are between the range of 56-100% as the variation of different patient population. Complications associated with PC usually occur immediately or within days and include haemorrhage, vagal reactions, sepsis, bile peritonitis, pneumothorax, perforation of the intestinal loop, secondary infection or colonisation of the gallbladder and catheter dislodgment. Late complications have been reported as catheter dislodgment and recurrent cholecystitis. PC under ultrasonographic guidance is a cost-effective, easy to perform and reliable procedure with low complication and high success rates for critically ill patients with acute cholecystitis. It is generally followed by elective cholecystectomy, if possible. However, it may be definitive treatment, especially in acalculous cholecystitis. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.