June 19, 1981

Treatment usually unnecessary for 'silent' gallstones

JAMA. 1981;245(23):2383-2384. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310480007003

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According to the old saying, it is best to let sleeping dogs lie. But what about silent gallstones?

Unsuspected gallstones turn up frequently during autopsies, and from time to time oral cholecystography during physical examination shows that an asymptomatic person has gallstones.

Such findings pose a problem to the clinician. Clearly, not every person with silent gallstones is a candidate for cholecystectomy or dissolution of gallstones. But just what are the odds?

A report by William A. Gracie, Jr, MD, of the University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, and D. F. Ransohoff, MD, Case Western Reserve University College of Medicine, Cleveland, suggests that it may often be best to leave them alone.

Oral cholecystography long has been part of the routine physical examination available to University of Michigan faculty members. Gracie and Ransohoff reported to the American Gastroenterological Association meeting in New York that asymptomatic gallstones were found in