© 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Background: Differentiation between patients with acute cholecystitis and patients with severe biliary colic can be challenging. Patients with undiagnosed acute cholecystitis can incur repeat emergency department (ED) visits, which is resource intensive. Methods: Billing records from 2000e2013 of all adults who visited the ED in the 30 d preceding their cholecystectomy were analyzed. Patients who were discharged from the ED and underwent elective cholecystectomy were compared with those who were discharged and returned to the ED within 30 d. T-tests, chi-square tests, and multivariable analysis were used as appropriate. Results: From 2000e2013, 3138 patients (34%) presented to the ED within 30 d before surgery, 63% were women, mean age 51 y, and of those 1625 were directly admitted from the ED for cholecystectomy, whereas 1513 patients left the ED to return for an elective cholecystectomy. Patients who were discharged were younger (mean age 49 versus 54 y, P < 0.001) and had shorter ED stays (5.9 versus 7.2 h, P < 0.001) than the patients admitted immediately. Of the discharged patients, 303 (20%) returned to the ED within 30 d to undergo urgent cholecystectomy. Compared with patients with successful elective cholecystectomy after the ED visit, those who failed the pathway were more likely to have an American Society of Anesthesiologists score ≥3 and were <40 or ≥60 compared with the successful group. Conclusions: One in five patients failed the elective cholecystectomy pathway after ED discharge, leading to additional patient distress and use of resources. Further risk factor assessment may help design efficient care pathways.