Gall Bladder Polyps in Sclerosing Cholangitis: Does the 1-cm Rule Apply?

ANZ J Surg. 2007 May;77(5):355-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-2197.2007.04059.x.


Introduction: Polyps of the gall bladder (PLG) are common findings in radiological investigations of the gall bladder and most are benign although carcinoma of the gall bladder can arise in PLG. In the general population PLG less than 1 cm in diameter are thought to have a low risk of malignancy and can be cautiously observed.

Methods: All patients undergoing surgical resection for gall bladder cancer were entered into a prospective database. Four patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) presenting with gall bladder cancer in a PLG are studied.

Results: Four patients (two men; median age 46.5 years, range 37-71 years) presented with PLG and known histories of PSC. All patients were shown to have PLG of size between 7 mm x 8 mm and 25 mm x 14 mm on imaging with no radiological evidence of carcinoma. Tumour markers carcinoembryonic antigen and CA19-9 were within the normal range in all patients. All patients were managed with cholecystectomy. Two patients with T1 tumours remain alive and well at 2 and 4 years post-cholecystectomy. Of the remaining two patients with T2 tumours, one underwent re-resection of the liver bed and portal lymph nodes and remains alive and well at 12 months. The remaining patient developed an abdominal wall recurrence 12 months after cholecystectomy. She has also undergone resection with postoperative radiation therapy and remains well after 12 months of clinical follow up.

Conclusion: Gall bladder polyps, which are common and are usually benign in the general population, are often malignant in PSC. Regardless of size, any PLG in a patient with PSC should be considered for cholecystectomy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopic Retrograde
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / complications*
  • Female
  • Gallbladder Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polyps / diagnostic imaging*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed