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Dig Dis Sci. 1992 Oct;37(10):1517-22.

Patients with uncomplicated cholelithiasis acidify bile normally.

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Department of Surgery, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland.


Reports have suggested that patients with gallstones have gallbladder bile that is less acidic and more saturated with calcium carbonate than patients without gallstones. This failure to acidify bile may play a role in the formation of gallstones. We, therefore, compared gallbladder bile pH, ionized calcium, and calcium carbonate saturation index from patients undergoing either incidental gallbladder removal (controls, n = 23) or elective cholecystectomy for gallstones (n = 55). Gallstones were classified as either cholesterol (n = 39) or black pigment (n = 16) stones. No difference in gallbladder bile pH was noted among the controls, cholesterol stone, and pigment stone patients. In addition, no difference in ionized calcium concentration or CCSI was noted among the three groups. The pH in additional patients (n = 49) with acute cholecystitis, common bile duct obstruction, biliary tract infection, and cystic duct obstruction was significantly more acidic. We conclude that neither a defect in bile acidification nor increased saturation of calcium carbonate explains why human cholesterol or pigment gallstones form.

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