Incidence and predictors of common bile duct stones in patients with acute cholecystitis: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis

Hongyi Chen, Robert Jorissen, James Walcott, Mehrdad Nikfarjam

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Acute cholecystitis (AC) is a surgical condition that is usually managed by emergency surgery. The presence of common bile duct stones (CBDS) in this setting mandates definitive treatment to avoid complications such as cholangitis. The incidence of CBDS in the setting of AC is poorly defined. Methods: A systematic English literature search was conducted in PubMed, MEDLINE and Embase to determine the incidence of CBDS in patients presenting with AC. Outlier studies identified by funnel plot analysis were excluded and the incidence of CBDS was identified. The mean CBD diameter and liver function test values of patients with AC and CBDS were calculated. Results: Data were extracted from 19 studies representing a total 4057 patients with AC. Routine biliary imaging was not performed in all studies. The pooled incidence of CBDS was 13.7% (95% confidence interval 11.8–15.9). The incidence of unsuspected retained CBDS was 1.1%. Histologically confirmed cases of AC had a similar rate of CBDS compared to those diagnosed clinically. The mean CBD diameter of patients with AC and CBDS was 7.2 mm compared to 5.8 mm without. Liver function test values in the presence of CBDS were more likely to be deranged, with gamma-glutamyltransferase the most sensitive and specific marker for CBDS in the setting of AC. Conclusion: CBDS is present in a significant proportion of patients presenting with AC. Routine biliary imaging is advised in all patients presenting with AC where possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1598-1603
JournalANZ Journal of Surgery
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • acute cholecystitis
  • choledocholithiasis
  • common bile duct calculi
  • common bile duct stone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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