Background Liver tests are utilized to determine the presence of biliary obstruction. Aim To examine our hypothesis that liver tests aid in elucidating whether patients have simple calculous cholecystitis (ACC) or choledocholithiasis (CDL). Methods We performed a retrospective study of patients admitted to two University of Texas Southwestern teaching hospitals with a clinical picture consistent with 'acute gallstone disease', i.e. cholecystitis ± choledocolithiasis. The presence of ACC and CDL was based on defined clinical criteria. Results The cohort consisted of 154 patients meeting specific entry criteria, primarily with right upper quadrant pain; 62 ACC, 79 both ACC and CDL and 13 CDL alone. Approximately 30% of patients with ACC had abnormal alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and/or bilirubin level and approximately 50% had abnormal aminotransferase levels. Among patients with ACC/CDL, 77% had abnormal ALP, 60% had abnormal bilirubin and 90% had abnormal aminotransferase levels. By multivariate analysis, increasing common bile duct size and an abnormal ALP and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) were excellent predictors of having ACC with CDL. Conclusions Liver test patterns can aid in elucidating CDL, including in ACC patients. Fundamentally, patients with CDL were more likely to have more abnormal liver tests, whether they had CDL only, or CDL and ACC. A dilated CBD, and abnormal ALP and ALT had modest sensitivity and high specificity for identification of patients with ACC and CDL.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)