Gallstone recurrence after successful shock wave therapy: the magnitude of the problem and the predictive factors

E Cesmeli, A E Elewaut, T Kerre, M De Buyzere, M Afschrift, A Elewaut
American Journal of Gastroenterology 1999, 94 (2): 474-9

OBJECTIVE: Reports concerning long term recurrence of gallstones after successful extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) show a high probability of stone recurrence. There is still discussion on the factors influencing stone recurrence. In this study we wanted to evaluate the long term recurrence of gallstones after stone clearance with ESWL and oral bile acids, and to assess possible risk and preventive factors of stone recurrence.

METHODS: A total of 322 consecutive patients with stone clearance between December 1988 and December 1995 were included. All patients were contacted for ultrasonography and were interviewed for additional information on daily intake of aspirin, NSAIDs, cholesterol lowering medication, estrogen therapy, and biliary pain during follow-up.

RESULTS: A total of 187 patients were still stone-free after a mean follow-up of 35 months (range: 3-89 months); 135 patients had recurrence. There was a significant association between stone recurrence and estrogen intake (p = 0.04), number of lithotripsy sessions (p = 0.0007), time until stone disappearance (p = 0.0003), and biliary pain (p < 0.0001). There was no difference in recurrence rate between solitary and multiple stones.

CONCLUSIONS: Long-term recurrence of gallstones after lithotripsy is high: < or = 69% after 6 yr. We found a significant association of stone recurrence with estrogen intake, number of lithotripsy sessions, and time until stone disappearance. Intake of aspirin or NSAIDs was not associated with decreased stone recurrence. Of the patients with recurrent stones, 57% had biliary pain.

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