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Gastroenterology Research and Practice
Volume 2009 (2009), Article ID 820749, 6 pages
Research Article

Natural Progression of Biochemical Markers of Biliary Tract Obstruction in Patients with Gallstone Pancreatitis

Division of Emergency (Non-Trauma) Surgery, Department of Surgery, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California Medical Center and Los Angeles County Hospital, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA

Received 29 August 2008; Revised 9 March 2009; Accepted 12 April 2009

Academic Editor: Gianfranco D. Alpini

Copyright © 2009 Mikael Petrosyan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The presenting pattern and natural progression of biochemical markers of biliary tract obstruction in patients with gallstone pancreatitis have not been elucidated. We analyzed serial values of bilirubin levels following admission to discharge in 143 patients. Ninety-four of patients demonstrated a Decrescendo (falling) pattern of bilirubin levels from admission until normalization at 21 hours (median). Forty-nine patients demonstrated a Crescendo-Decrescendo (initially rising) pattern with peak levels of bilirubin occurring at 39 hours after admission followed by a subsequent normalization after a median of 119 hours. Patients in the Decrescendo group were significantly younger (33 versus 41 years, ) and more patients had experienced symptoms for greater than 48 hours (65% versus 47%, ). Ten percent of patients in the Decrescendo group and 29% of patients in the Crescendo-Decrescendo group underwent ERCP ( ). Normalization of biochemical markers after ERCP was significantly delayed in both groups compared to no ERCP. Older patients present earlier, with higher bilirubin levels and normalize slower than younger patients, perhaps due to fibrosis of the ampulla and decreased compliance of the common bile duct. Patients who disobstruct spontaneously (90%) normalize quicker than patients undergoing ERCP.