Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 1992 Dec;21(4):803-15.

Gallstone disease and pancreatitis in pregnancy.

Author information

  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, University of Texas Medical School, Houston.


Controversy exists over whether pregnancy is a risk factor for gallstone formation; however, changes in hepatobiliary function do occur during pregnancy to create a lithogenic environment; these changes include gallbladder stasis and secretion of bile with increased amounts of cholesterol and decreased amounts of chenodeoxycholic acid. In women with existing gallstones, pregnancy may bring out symptoms, including pain and even acute cholecystitis. This may be more common during the postpartum period than during pregnancy itself; however, the overall occurrence of symptomatic biliary disease in association with pregnancy is low. The effects of pregnancy, if any, on pancreatic exocrine function are undefined. Acute pancreatitis can occur during pregnancy but does not appear to do so with either increased or, alternatively, decreased frequency. The concept of pancreatitis caused by pregnancy per se is not valid, although in susceptible women with lipid disorders, hypertriglyceridemia can occur and serve as an etiologic factor. Gallstones are a common cause of pancreatitis, but in contrast to nonpregnant women, alcohol is unusual as a cause. Although the presentation of both acute cholecystitis and acute pancreatitis may be similar to that in the nonpregnant state, the differential diagnosis of both these disorders is expanded because of unique pregnancy-related conditions and the shift of abdominal viscera by the enlarging uterus. The diagnosis is clinical and supported with conventional laboratory studies and ultrasound; management is supportive and in most patients successful. Cholecystectomy is seldom necessary during pregnancy, either for acute cholecystitis or gallstone pancreatitis, but can be safely performed if necessary after the first trimester. Endoscopic papillotomy and stone removal for choledocholithiasis are possible during pregnancy and may be the treatment of choice for this unusual condition. Specific enteral or parenteral nutrition may be necessary in women with pancreatitis associated with hypertriglyceridemia.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center