Gallstones and biliary sludge in Greek patients with complete high spinal cord injury: an ultrasonographical evaluation
AuthorBaltas, C. S.; Balanika, A. P.; Sgantzos, M. N.; Papakonstantinou, O.; Spyridopoulos, T.; Bizimi, V.; Tsouroulas, M.; Guglielmi, G.
Introduction: We used ultrasonography to detect the presence of biliary sludge or gallstones in Greek patients with complete high spinal cord injury (SCI) above the seventh thoracic segment (T7), within the first six months from injury onset, in order to evaluate the effects of neurological instability and dysfunction of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) on the gallbladder function in the early post-SCI phase. Methods: We evaluated 78 asymptomatic patients (57 males, 21 females; mean age 34.8 (range 19-56) years) with complete high SCI located above the T7 segment, and 78 healthy subjects (59 males, 19 females; mean age 35.2 (range 21-59) years) matched for age, gender and race, for a total period of 39 months. All the participants underwent ultrasonographical examination of the gallbladder and common bile duct within the first six months from the injury, in order to investigate the development of biliary sludge and gallstones. Results: The incidence of biliary sludge was significantly higher in patients with SCI compared with the control group. The incidence of biliary sludge and gallstones was also significantly higher in patients with SCI patients in comparison with the healthy subjects. In male SCI patients, the incidence of biliary sludge was significantly increased in comparison with healthy subjects. No significant difference was revealed between the two groups in detection of gallstones. Conclusion: Our study indicates that the detection of gallbladder sludge and gallstones are significantly higher in Greek patients with complete high SCI above the T7 segment, as compared with healthy control subjects within the first six months of the injury onset. The complete disruption of the SNS and the neurological instability in the early post-SCI phase is probably responsible for the biliary sludge and gallstone formation. Our results suggest that ultrasonography should be performed in these patients at the first 3-6 months from the injury for the early diagnosis of the lithogenic bile.