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Dig Dis Sci. 1988 Oct;33(10):1223-5.

Elevated serum levels of tumor marker CA19-9 in acute cholangitis.

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Department of Medicine, George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, D.C. 20037.


The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between the "tumor marker," CA19-9, and benign biliary tract disease. We measured serum and bile CA19-9 in 40 patients with (1) symptomatic cholelithiasis (N = 14), (2) common bile duct obstruction without cholangitis (N = 8), (3) acute cholangitis secondary to gallstone disease (N = 7), and (4) acute cholecystitis (N = 11). All seven patients with acute cholangitis had marked elevations of serum CA19-9 (range 190-32,000 units/ml; 75 units/ml cutoff), whereas none of the patients in the other groups had elevated levels despite similar degrees of cholestasis and similarly high levels of CA19-9 in gallbladder and common duct bile (range 7.3 X 10(4)-2.3 X 10(9) units/ml). Of the three patients with cholangitis in whom CA19-9 levels were followed serially, all had rapid return of levels to normal after successful treatment. We conclude that the "tumor marker" CA19-9 is markedly elevated in the serum of patients with acute cholangitis but not in patients with other forms of benign biliary tract disease.

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