May 10, 1993

Management of Gallstones in Diabetic Patients

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medicine (Drs Aucott, Cooper, and Aron) and Surgery (Dr Bloom), Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University Hospitals of Cleveland (Ohio).

Arch Intern Med. 1993;153(9):1053-1058. doi:10.1001/archinte.1993.00410090019003

The management of gallstones in diabetic patients has traditionally been considered problematic. Autopsy findings and uncontrolled studies have documented a higher prevalence of cholelithiasis in diabetics, and early reports showed dramatically increased perioperative morbidity and mortality for treatment of diabetics with acute cholecystitis. As a result, some authorities have recommended prophylactic cholecystectomy for diabetic patients with asymptomatic gallstones, which is in contrast to recommendations for nondiabetics. More recent investigators have shown comparable rates of operative morbidity and mortality for biliary surgery in diabetics when compared with the general population. Recent studies have questioned whether diabetes is an independent risk factor for gallstone formation. Decision analyses using these new data have shown that prophylactic cholecystectomy is not of clear benefit and should not be routinely recommended for diabetics with asymptomatic gallstones. We believe that available data, although limited, indicate that asymptomatic patients with diabetes do not benefit from screening for gall-stones and that cholecystectomy should only be performed in cases of symptomatic cholelithiasis, as is the case in the general population.

(Arch Intern Med. 1993;153:1053-1058)