Pathological pancreatic exocrine function and duct morphology in patients with cholelithiasis

Dig Dis Sci. 2001 Mar;46(3):536-9. doi: 10.1023/a:1005690930325.


Most authors claim alcohol consumption to be the only relevant reason for chronic pancreatitis. However, gallstones might cause this disease, as they do cause acute pancreatitis. In this study 91 gallstone patients and 94 age-matched controls were investigated concerning exocrine pancreatic function (fecal elastase-1 concentrations). Furthermore x-rays of 100 consecutive ERCP patients were evaluated for differences concerning pancreatic duct changes between patients with and without evidence of cholelithiasis. Pathological elastase 1 levels were more frequent in gallstone patients (30,8%) as compared to age-matched controls (19%). Symptoms such as upper abdominal pain, bloating, and fat intolerance were reported more often in gallstone patients. In ERCP of gallstone patients (N = 60), 77% were found to have chronic pancreatitis according to the Cambridge classification, while in nongallstone-patients (N = 32) 47% had chronic pancreatitis. In conclusion, according to these data a pathophysiological connection between gallstones and chronic pancreatitis appears to be probable.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopic Retrograde
  • Cholelithiasis / complications*
  • Cholelithiasis / pathology
  • Cholelithiasis / physiopathology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Feces / enzymology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreas / physiopathology*
  • Pancreatic Ducts / pathology*
  • Pancreatic Elastase / analysis
  • Pancreatitis / etiology*
  • Prospective Studies


  • Pancreatic Elastase