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Gallstone ileus: a review
  1. Koichi Inukai
  1. Department of Acute Care Surgery, Sakai City Medical Center, Sakai, Osaka, Japan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Koichi Inukai; koichi.sums{at}


Background Gallstone ileus is an important complication of cholecystolithiasis. In general, surgery is the treatment of choice for such cases, but clinicians face difficulty in the selection of an appropriate approach. Closure of a cholecystoenteric fistula can be achieved through one-stage or two-stage operation. Two-stage operation has a lower mortality rate than a one-stage procedure, but persistence of the cholecystoenteric fistula is associated with the risk of carcinogenesis and recurrence of gallstone ileus.

Objective This study reviews the different surgical approaches according to the impaction site of the gallstone, using data of previous studies by our group and clinical reports in the literature.

Conclusions First, for cases involving impaction at the duodenum, the cholecystoenteric fistula can be repaired in the same surgical field, and one-stage operation obtains favourable outcome; hence, one-stage operation is considered as treatment of choice. Second, for cases involving impaction at the small intestine, natural closure of the cholecystoenteric fistula or low mortality is expected; hence, two-stage operation may be performed, possibly using minimally invasive laparoscopy. Third, for cases involving impaction at the colon, natural closure of the cholecystocolonic fistula is unlikely, and patients have a high risk of reflux cholangitis due to faecal fluid; hence, one-stage operation is considered as treatment of choice.

  • abdominal surgery
  • small bowel disease
  • gallstone disease

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  • Contributors KI conceptualised the study, is responsible for data collection and analysis, and writing the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available.

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