The diagnosis of complete obstruction of the common bile duct is usually easy. If, however, we are asked on any given day whether complete obstruction is still present, we cannot give a certain answer, because the subsidence of the symptoms on which the diagnosis rests—acholic stools, jaundice, choluria, bilirubinemia —takes a number of days.
There are certain situations in which the answering of this question may be of great practical value. For example, if a surgeon about to operate on a patient with protracted jaundice due to stone in the common bile duct could ascertain that the stone had just passed spontaneously, he would in most instances postpone operation to a time when the patient's general condition was more favorable.
The question might, of course, be answered by the use of the duodenal tube. But in the absence of bile, it is very difficult to be certain that the tip
OTTENBERG R, ROSEN S. POSSIBLE APPLICATION OF PHENOLTETRACHLORPHTHALEIN TEST TO OBSTRUCTIVE JAUNDICE. JAMA. 1923;80(21):1519. doi:10.1001/jama.1923.02640480023008
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