Patients with acalculous biliary-like pain present a difficult clinical challenge. Our aim was to evaluate the outcome of patients with recurrent biliary-like pain without gallstones who underwent testing of gallbladder ejection fraction (GBEF) by cholecystokinin-cholescintigraphy (CCK-CS) in order to determine clinical factors that may predict symptom resolution. We reviewed the records of patients with recurrent acalculous biliary-like pain who underwent CCK-CS from January 1995 to December 1999. For comparison, we also studied an age- and sex-matched group of patients who underwent cholecystectomy for symptomatic cholelithiasis. Outcome was obtained by telephone interview, using a scale from 0 to 3 where 0 = no improvement and 3 = clinical remission. Patient demographics, predominant symptom(s), method of management, gallbladder pathology, and response to treatment were recorded. One hundred twenty-nine patients underwent CCK-CS. Of 69 with an abnormal GBEF, 48 (70%) were available for interview. Forty patients underwent cholecystectomy. Twenty-seven patients reported symptom resolution after surgery while 4 nonsurgical patients reported the same (P = NS). Univariate analysis revealed no association between symptom outcome and presence of gastrointestinal symptom(s), severity and duration of abdominal pain, management, or gallbladder pathology. In addition, no GBEF cutoff level predicted symptom outcome. Of the remaining 60 patients with a normal GBEF, 30 (50%) were available for interview. Twenty-eight patients in this group were managed medically and 2 patients underwent cholecystectomy. Eighteen patients managed medically were asymptomatic, as were the 2 who underwent cholecystectomy. There was no difference in symptom outcome between patients who had GBEF >35% vs <35%. In conclusion, in a group of patients with recurrent acalculous biliary-like pain who underwent CCK-CS, we found a high rate of symptom resolution following cholecystectomy; however, this was not statistically different from a smaller cohort who did not undergo surgery. We were unable to determine any variable predictive of symptom resolution.
- Acalculous gallbladder disease
- Biliary-like pain
- Gallbladder ejection fraction
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