Acute pancreatitis is a severe complication of gallstones with considerable mortality.
Dr Venneman and colleagues from the Netherlands sought to explore the potential risk factors for biliary pancreatitis.
The researchers compared postprandial gallbladder motility (via ultrasonography) and, after subsequent cholecystectomy, numbers, sizes, and types of gallstones; gallbladder bile composition; and cholesterol crystallization.
The research team included 21 gallstone patients with previous pancreatitis and 30 patients with uncomplicated symptomatic gallstones.
Crystallization occurred much faster in the bile of pancreatitis patients|
The investigators found that gallbladder motility was stronger in pancreatitis patients than in patients with uncomplicated symptomatic gallstones.
Smaller and more gallstones were detected in patients with pancreatitis than patients with symptomatic gallstones.
In addition, the team noted that crystallization occurred much faster in the bile of pancreatitis patients, possibly because of higher mucin concentrations.
The researchers found no significant differences in types of gallstones, relative biliary lipid contents and cholesterol saturation indexes.
The team also observed no significant differences in bile salt species composition, phospholipid classes, total protein or immunoglobulin (G, M, and A), haptoglobin, and alpha-1 acid glycoprotein concentrations.
Dr Venneman’s team concluded, “Patients with small gallbladder stones and/or preserved gallbladder motility are at increased risk of pancreatitis.”
“The potential benefit of prophylactic cholecystectomy in this patient category has yet to be explored.”