April 1996

Simultaneous Bacteriologic Assessment of Bile From Gallbladder and Common Bile Duct in Control Subjects and Patients With Gallstones and Common Duct Stones

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Gastrointestinal Unit, University Hospital, Santiago, Chile.

Arch Surg. 1996;131(4):389-394. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1996.01430160047008

Objectives:  To determine the simultaneous prevalence of bacteria in bile from the gallbladder and common bile duct and to determine the influence of the number of stones present on bateriologic findings.

Methods:  A prospective study was performed in 467 subjects divided into seven groups: 42 control subjects with normal biliary tracts, 221 patients with symptomatic gallstone disease, 12 patients with hydropic gallbladder, 52 patients with acute cholecystitis, 67 patients with common bile duct stones without cholangitis, 49 patients with common bile duct stones and acute cholangitis, and 24 patients with previous cholecystectomy and common bile duct stones. In all except controls, bile samples from the gallbladder and common bile duct were taken simultraneously for aerobic and anaerobic cultures.

Results:  Control subjects had no bacteria in gallbladder bile. Patients with gallstones, acute cholecystitis, and hydropic gallbladder had similar rates of positive cultures in the gallbladder and common bile duct, ranging from 22% to 46%, but the rate was significantly higher in patients with common bile duct stones without cholangitis (58.2%). Patients with cholangitis or previous cholecystectomy had a high rate of positive cultures of common duct bile (93% to 100%). Age greater than 60 years had a significant influence on the rate of positive bile cultures. There was no relationship between the number of stones in the gallbladder or common bile duct and the percentage of positive cultures. In 98% of the patients, the same bacteria were isolated from gallbladder and common duct bile.

Conclusions:  In normal subjects, no bacteria were present in the biliary tract. Among patients with common bile duct stones, there was an increasing percentage of positive cultures according to the severity of the disease. Age had an important influence, but sex and the number of common bile duct stones had no influence on positive cultures.(Arch Surg. 1996;131:389-394)