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Dig Dis Sci. 1998 Feb;43(2):349-53.

Dissolution of gallstones with simvastatin, an HMG CoA reductase inhibitor.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology and Radiology, Christchurch Hospital, New Zealand.


The aim of this study was to determine whether 12 months of therapy with Simvastatin, an HMG CoA reductase inhibitor, would dissolve gallstones. Twenty-seven subjects entered the study, all had a fasting oral cholecystogram, ultrasound examination, and fasting serum lipids prior to therapy. In addition, 22 subjects had their gallbladder ejection fraction, after CCK, determined by radionucleotide scanning. Eleven subjects had the cholesterol saturation index (CSI) of bile calculated before and at the end of 12 months of therapy. Of the 27 subjects, 26 completed 12 months of treatment with Simvastatin 20 mg daily. There was a significant fall in the total serum cholesterol (27%, P < 0.0001), LDL cholesterol (31%, P < 0.0001), triglyceride (34%, P < 0.0001) but no change in HDL after 12 months of therapy. Simvastatin treatment resulted in a 28% fall in the CSI of bile at the end of therapy (P < 0.01). The concentrations of individual bile acids did not change with therapy, and apart from a slight but significant increase in arachidonate, there were no other significant changes in the fatty acid composition of the biliary phospholipids. After 12 months of Simvastatin therapy there was a small decrease in the gallstone diameter but complete dissolution of gallstones was not achieved in any subjects. In conclusion 12 months of therapy with Simvastatin was effective in lowering the serum lipids and the CSI of bile but was not effective in dissolving gallstones.

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