Seventy-five patients with abdominal pain in the right upper quadrant who were subsequently confirmed operatively and histologically to have acute or chronic cholecystitis underwent radionuclide imaging of the biliary tree, ultrasonography, and/or computerized tomography before operation. Fiftyeight of the patients had acute cholecystitis and 17 had chronic cholecystitis and cholelithiasis. Analysis of our data indicates that ultrasonography is an accurate and better screening test than cholescintigraphy in the diagnosis of chronic cholecystitis and cholelithiasis, but it is less accurate in the detection of acute cholecystitis. On the other hand, radionuclide imaging is highly sensitive and specific in the early diagnosis of acute cholecystitis, but it is poor in the diagnosis of chronic cholecystitis and cholelithiasis unless the cystic duct is obstructed. CT scanning is more expensive than ultrasonography but may be extremely helpful in problematic cases such as the diagnosis of the cause of biliary obstruction or in imaging of the pancreas.
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