Clinical management of infantile cholelithiasis

Cerine Jeanty, S. Christopher Derderian, Jesse Courtier, Shinjiro Hirose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Purpose Infantile cholelithiasis is a rare disease process, and management strategies are poorly defined. We therefore examined the risk factors, complications, and management of this disease at our institution. Methods We retrospectively reviewed infants with cholelithiasis diagnosed on ultrasound between 1997 and 2013. Details of the patient's medical history, presentation, imaging findings, laboratory values, and treatment were reviewed and analyzed. Results Over the 16-year period, 50 infants were evaluated for cholelithiasis. Thirty-seven (74%) had at least one risk factor for gallstone development which included total parenteral nutrition, diuretic therapy, cephalosporin antibiotic treatment, sepsis, congenital heart disease (CHD), prematurity, or a malabsorptive gastrointestinal condition. Thirteen (26%) infants were symptomatic, most commonly presenting with emesis and jaundice. Complications from gallstones included choledocholithiasis (9), cholecystitis (3), and pancreatitis (1). Nearly half (6/13) of patients with complicated cholelithiasis had CHD. Of infants presenting with complications, 9 had a cholecystectomy, most commonly via a laparoscopic approach, 2 had an ERCP for choledocholithiasis, and 2 were medically managed. In patients managed conservatively, resolution of gallstones occurred in 25%. Conclusions Infantile cholelithiasis has variable outcomes ranging from spontaneous resolution to choledocholithiasis or cholecystitis. While patients with complicated cholelithiasis often undergo an operation, infants < 1 year of age have higher anesthetic and surgical risks. Conservative management with ERCP or medical treatment can also be successful, which offers an alternative to operative intervention in properly selected patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1289-1292
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Cholecystectomy
  • Gallstones
  • Key words Infant cholelithiasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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