Clinical significance of ultrasonographically detected coincidental gallstones.
The clinical profiles of 139 patients with gallstones found coincidentally during ultrasonography were reviewed and the patients followed prospectively for five years. Indications for ultrasonography included follow-up of abdominal malignancy (33%), evaluation of abdominal aortic aneurysm or other arteriosclerotic vascular disease (22%), renal insufficiency (12%), and lower abdominal pain (7%). At the time of gallstone detection, 14 patients (10%) had symptoms attributable to cholelithiasis. Over the next five years, only 15 patients (11%) developed episodes resembling biliary pain. Nine patients underwent cholecystectomy during this period. Three of the cholecystectomies were incidental to other abdominal procedures. Two cholecystectomies were performed as emergencies for gallstone complications with no perioperative mortality. Interestingly, 54 patients (40%) with coincidental gallstones died during the follow-up period. All the deaths were unrelated to gallstones. These data indicate that ultrasonographically detected coincidental gallstones rarely have clinical significance, leading strong support to the expectant management of most patients with purely coincidental gallstones.
Cucchiaro, G; Rossitch, JC; Bowie, J; Branum, GD; Niotis, MT; Watters, CR; Meyers, WC
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