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J Clin Gastroenterol. 2003 May-Jun;36(5):417-20.

Sonographic prevalence of liver steatosis and biliary tract stones in patients with inflammatory bowel disease: study of 511 subjects at a single center.

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  • 1Gastrointestinal Unit, L. Sacco University Hospital, Milan, Italy.



Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are associated with pathologic findings in the liver and biliary tract. Ultrasonography (US) represents a noninvasive means to study hepatobiliary abnormalities. This study evaluated the prevalence of US hepatobiliary changes and their relationship to clinical variables in a large IBD patient population followed in a single center.


Five hundred eighty-three consecutive IBD patients were studied with US. After excluding patients with preexisting acute or chronic hepatitis, metabolic disorders, or obesity, 511 patients were investigated for age, duration, site, and severity of the disease, history of surgery, and present medical treatment. At US, liver size, echogenicity (graded as mild-to-moderate or severe indicating a corresponding degree of hepatic steatosis), focal lesions of the liver and gallbladder, and biliary tract abnormalities were recorded.


Three hundred eleven patients with Crohn disease (CD) and 200 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) were recruited for the study. Hepatobiliary abnormalities were found at US in 54.2% and 55.9% of CD and UC patients, respectively. Liver enlargement and mild-to-moderate to severe liver steatosis were found in 25.7% and 39.5% of CD patients and in 25.5% and 35.5% of UC patients, respectively, a higher prevalence than among healthy controls (P < 0.001). The prevalence of gallstones among CD patients was 11%, higher than that among UC patients (7.5%) and controls (5.5%) (P = 0.016). The higher risk of gallbladder stones in CD was related to age, female sex, and previous surgery.


The prevalence of liver enlargement and liver steatosis was higher among IBD patients. The prevalence of gallstones was increased in CD patients only. This risk was related to age, female sex, and previous surgery.

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