Journal of Surgical Technique and Case Report

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Pneumobilia: A Case Report and Literature Review on its Surgical Approaches

CS Wong, JM Crotty, SA Naqvi


Gallstones ileus is an uncommon cause but important cause of small bowel obstruction. The gallstone enters the intestinal lumen via a fistula located in the duodenum (cholecystoduodenal), or rarely, in the colon (cholecystocolonic) or stomach (cholecystogastric). This may result in large bowel or gastric outlet obstruction (Bouveret’s Syndrome). Gallstone ileus affects the elderly females pre‑dominantly and is associated with a high morbidity and mortality rate if diagnosis and urgent surgical intervention are delayed. In this paper, we report on the case of an elderly lady who presented with classical symptoms and signs of small bowel obstruction. She was subsequently diagnosed with gallstone ileus due to a large gallstones lodged in the intestinal lumen. We perform a literature review on this rare disease and discuss the two main surgical approaches in managing this condition. Gallstone ileus should be considered in the differential diagnosis of small bowel obstruction especially in elderly women who have no history of abdominal surgery or abdominal hernia. Early intervention is important because of the high mortality rate due to the poor general condition that often exists in this subgroup of patients. There is no general consensus on gold standard surgical approach in these cases but a two‑stage procedure (either enterotomy alone or enterotomy and subsequent cholecystectomy) has been shown to be associated with lower mortality rates.

Key words: Gallstone ileus, pneumobilia, rigler’s triad, small bowel obstruction
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