Gallstone ileus: diagnosis and management.

Research paper by A A AA Ayantunde, A A Agrawal

Indexed on: 17 Apr '07Published on: 17 Apr '07Published in: World Journal of Surgery


Gallstone ileus is a rare complication of cholelithiasis, mostly in the elderly. It accounts for 1%-4% of mechanical bowel obstruction and is associated with high morbidity and mortality. We present our experience of gallstone ileus and discuss current opinion as reported in the literature.A retrospective review was performed of medical records of patients in our institution coded for gallstone ileus by the International Classification of Diseases (ICD K-563) coding system between January 1998 and December 2005.There were 22 patients with mean age of 77 (58-92) years and a female to male ratio of 4.5:1. Most patients presented with abdominal pain and vomiting, with a median duration of symptoms of 3 (1-28) days. Preoperative diagnosis was made in 77% from a combination of plain x-ray, ultrasonography, and computed tomography (CT) scans; 86.4% of the patients belonged to ASA class of 3 or 4. Twenty patients underwent enterolithotomy alone, and two had one-stage procedure. The mean size of impacted stones was 3.6 (2.5-4.5) cm, with location in the terminal ileum in 17 and jejunum in 5 patients. There were 5 perioperative deaths and an episode of cholangitis occurring in one patient 18 months after enterolithotomy alone.Gallstone ileus is a difficult clinical entity to diagnose. Unreserved use of imaging techniques can improve diagnostic accuracy and speed of therapeutic decision making. Management of gallstone ileus must be individualized. The one-stage procedure should be offered only to highly selected patients with good cardiorespiratory reserve and with absolute indications for biliary surgery at the time of presentation.