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May 1980

Cholelithiasis in Sickle Cell Anemia: Surgical or Medical Management

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.

Arch Intern Med. 1980;140(5):648-651. doi:10.1001/archinte.1980.00330170064026

• Cholelithiasis was diagnosed in 40 of 100 consecutive patients with sickle cell anemia treated in the emergency room. Incidence apparently was not related to sex or degree of reticulocytosis, but did increase with age and perhaps was greater in patients with lower percentage of hemoglobin F and more complications of their hemoglobinopathy. Cholelithiasis was not unusual in children less than 11 years old. No major surgical complications were noted during 29 elective cholecystectomies, but urgent cholecystectomy, performed for real or suspected acute cholecystitis in seven patients, resulted in multiple major postoperative problems. With the low morbidity of elective procedures, as well as simplification of subsequent abdominal pain crisis management, elective cholecystectomy in patients with stable sickle cell conditions is recommended. Surgery during sickle cell crises or acute cholecystitis, with the attendant increased morbidity, should be avoided.

(Arch Intern Med 140:648-651, 1980)