Accuracy of ultrasonography in the diagnosis of acute calculous cholecystitis: review of the literature

Antonio Pinto, Alfonso Reginelli, Lucio Cagini, Francesco Coppolino, Antonio Amato Stabile Ianora, Renata Bracale, Melchiore Giganti, Luigia Romano
Critical Ultrasound Journal 2013 July 15, 5 Suppl 1: S11

BACKGROUND: To evaluate the accuracy of ultrasonography in the diagnosis of acute calculous cholecystitis in comparison with other imaging modalities.

METHODS: The authors performed a search of the Medline/ PubMed (National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland) for original research and review publications examining the accuracy of ultrasonography in the diagnosis of acute calculous cholecystitis. The search design utilized a single or combination of the following terms : (1) acute cholecystitis, (2) ultrasonography, (3) computed tomography, (4) magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography and (5) cholescintigraphy. This review was restricted to human studies and to English-language literature. Four authors reviewed all the titles and subsequent the abstract of 198 articles that appeared appropriate. Other articles were recognized by reviewing the reference lists of significant papers. Finally, the full text of 31 papers was reviewed.

RESULTS: Sonography is still used as the initial imaging technique for evaluating patients with suspected acute calculous cholecystitis because of its high sensitivity at the detection of GB stones, its real-time character, and its speed and portability. Cholescintigraphy still has the highest sensitivity and specificity in patients who are suspected of having acute cholecystitis. However, due to a combination of reasons including logistic drawbacks, broad imaging capability and clinician referral pattern the use of cholescintigraphy is limited in clinical practice. CT is particularly useful for evaluating the many complications of acute calculous cholecystitis. The lack of widespread availability of MRI and the relatively high cost prohibits its primary use in patients with acute calculous cholecystitis.

CONCLUSIONS: US is currently considered the preferred initial imaging technique for patients who are clinically suspected of having acute calculous cholecystitis.

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