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Management of Gallstones - Article
ABSTRACT: Many patients with gallstones can be managed expectantly. Generally, only persons with symptoms related to the presence of gallstones (e.g., steady, nonparoxysmal pain lasting four to six hours located in the upper abdomen) or complications (such as acute cholecystitis or gallstone pancreatitis) warrant surgical intervention. Biliary pain is alleviated by cholecystectomy in the majority of cases. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is considered the most cost-effective management strategy in the treatment of symptomatic gallstones. Medical management strategies are mostly palliative and are not widely supported. Patients with longer-lasting biliary pain, in combination with abdominal tenderness, fever, and/or leukocytosis, require an ultrasound evaluation to help establish a diagnosis of acute cholecystitis. Once a patient is diagnosed, having cholecystectomy early in the course of the disease can significantly reduce the hospital stay.
ABSTRACT: Cholelithiasis, or gallstones, is one of the most common and costly of all the gastrointestinal diseases. The incidence of gallstones increases with age. At-risk populations include persons with diabetes mellitus, persons who are obese, women, rapid weight cyclers, and patients on hormone therapy or taking oral contraceptives. Most patients are asymptomatic; gallstones are discovered incidentally during ultrasonography or other imaging of the abdomen. Asymptomatic patients have a low annual rate of developing symptoms (about 2% per year). Once symptoms appear, the usual presentation of uncomplicated gallstones is biliary colic, caused by the intermittent obstruction of the cystic duct by a stone. The pain is characteristically steady, is usually moderate to severe in intensity, is located in the epigastrium or right upper quadrant of the abdomen, lasts one to five hours, and gradually subsides. If pain persists with the onset of fever or high white blood cell count, it should raise suspicion for complications such as acute cholecystitis, gallstone pancreatitis, and ascending cholangitis. Ultrasonography is the best initial imaging study for most patients, although additional imaging studies may be indicated. The management of acute biliary colic mainly involves pain control with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or narcotic pain relievers. Oral dissolution therapy is usually minimally successful and used only if the patient cannot undergo surgery. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy remains the surgical choice for symptomatic and complicated gallstones, with a shorter hospital stay and shorter convalescence period than open cholecystectomy. Percutaneous cholecystostomy is an alternative for patients who are critically ill with gallbladder empyema and sepsis.