Role of biliary scintiscan in predicting the need for cholangiography

Br J Surg. 2000 Feb;87(2):181-5. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2168.2000.01300.x.


Background: Currently used predictors for bile duct calculi in patients undergoing cholecystectomy have low specificity resulting in unnecessary cholangiograms being performed. The role of biliary scintiscan in predicting the presence of bile duct calculi was assessed.

Methods: Seventy-five patients with symptomatic gallstone disease were studied prospectively regard- ing the value of a history of jaundice or acute pancreatitis, raised serum bilirubin and serum alkaline phosphatase levels, and visualization of stones or presence of dilated bile ducts on ultrasonography (standard criteria) in detecting bile duct calculi. Results of biliary scintiscan were evaluated against a combination of standard criteria. The 'gold standard' for evaluation was endoscopic or peroperative cholangiography.

Results: Biliary scintiscan had a higher sensitivity and specificity (93 and 94 per cent) than a combination of the above standard and modified predictors for biliary calculi (89 and 71 per cent). A combination of ultrasonography and selective use of scintiscan, in the absence of bile duct dilatation only, had higher values (96 and 98 per cent).

Conclusion: A combination of ultrasonography and biliary scintiscan can accurately predict bile duct calculi and could be used as a guide for selective cholangiography.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Bilirubin / blood
  • Cholangiography
  • Cholelithiasis / blood
  • Cholelithiasis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Jaundice / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatitis / etiology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Bilirubin