Effect of bile diversion and sphincterotomy on gallbladder muscle contractility and gallstone formation

Am J Surg. 1991 Jul;162(1):31-5. doi: 10.1016/0002-9610(91)90197-l.


Feeding prairie dogs a diet rich in cholesterol induces gallstone formation that is preceded by a sustained decrease in gallbladder smooth muscle contractility. Sphincterotomy is known to prevent gallstone formation in cholesterol-fed prairie dogs. Experiments were designed to determine whether the effect of sphincterotomy is a consequence of hepatic bile diversion, and whether bile diversion prevents the altered contractility. Following sham operation, surgical biliary enteric bypass, or sphincterotomy, prairie dogs were fed a high-cholesterol or a regular diet. Gallbladder muscle contractility and the presence of crystals and stones were determined. In sham-operated animals, the cholesterol diet induced a decrease in gallbladder muscle contractility and caused the formation of cholesterol gallstones. In animals with bile diversion and sphincterotomy, the effects of cholesterol feeding were reduced or prevented. Thus, these procedures may prevent stone formation by preventing a reduction in gallbladder contractility. Contractility was depressed in animals with bile diversion fed a regular diet, compared with animals with a sham operation fed a regular diet. The mechanism for this depression may differ from that induced by the cholesterol diet. Diversion, and perhaps sphincterotomy, impairs gallbladder filling. Thus, gallbladder muscle is not stretched and does not contract against a load. This could result in a "disuse atrophy." If the results from our study apply to humans, sphincterotomy may reduce stone formation by preventing the effects of lithogenic bile on gallbladder muscle contractility and by enhancing the ability of the muscle to empty the lithogenic bile.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bile* / physiology
  • Catheterization
  • Cholelithiasis / etiology
  • Cholelithiasis / prevention & control*
  • Cholesterol, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Cholesterol, Dietary / pharmacology
  • Common Bile Duct / surgery
  • Duodenum / surgery
  • Gallbladder / drug effects
  • Gallbladder / physiology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Ligation
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Sciuridae
  • Sincalide / pharmacology
  • Sphincter of Oddi / surgery*


  • Cholesterol, Dietary
  • Sincalide