Management of cholelithiasis in pediatric patients who undergo bone marrow transplantation

Shawn D. Safford, Kristine M. Safford, Paul Martin, Henry Rice, Joanne Kurtzberg, Michael A. Skinner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Purpose: The aim of this study was to determine the incidence, risk factors, and proper management for asymptomatic cholelithiasis in children undergoing bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Methods: The authors reviewed retrospectively the records of 575 children who underwent bone marrow transplantation at a University bone marrow transplantation unit (BMT) unit between February 1991 and October 1999. Of these patients, 235 underwent abdominal ultrasonography for evaluation of jaundice, sepsis, abdominal pain, or metastasis. To identify risk factors for cholelithiasis, the authors stratified the patients based on their disease and treatment regimen. Finally, the authors analyzed the natural history and management of BMT children with cholelithiasis. Results: The authors identified 20 cases of choletithiasis (8.5%) in the 235 BMT patients who underwent ultrasonography. Children who underwent BMT to treat bone marrow failure showed a significantly increased risk of cholelithiasis compared with children treated for malignancy (27% v 7.4%; P < .01). Most children (85%) with gallstones did not require surgical intervention. Specifically, 9 (45%) died from their primary disease, 5 (25%) showed sonographic resolution of their gallstones, and 3 (15%) underwent follow-up nonoperatively with persistent cholelithiasis. Three of the 20 patients with gallstones (15%) had signs of acute cholecystitis and underwent surgery, There were no surgical complications or deaths in the operative group. Conclusions: Cholelithiasis occurs at a high incidence in pediatric bone marrow transplant patients. Children undergoing BMT for bone marrow failure are at higher risk of having gallstones than those being treated for malignancy. Finally, these data support a strategy of nonoperative management for asymptomatic cholelithiasis in this highly selected group of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-90
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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