Objective: The aims of this study were (i) to evaluate gall-bladder form and contents, (ii) to assess the prevalence of gallstones in acromegalic patients before octreotide treatment and the incidence of gallstone formation in patients with acromegaly during long-term (6-90 months, mean 44 months) octreotide treatment, and (iii) to test the efficacy of ursodeoxycholic acid in preventing and treating octreotide-induced cholelithiasis.
Design: Forty-nine patients (23 men and 26 women, aged 19-81 years) were studied by repeated gall-bladder ultrasonography performed at baseline and then every 6 months during octreotide therapy. All ultrasound scans were evaluated by the same radiologist. Statistical analysis was performed using the Chi-squared and regression analysis tests.
Results: Asymptomatic stones were recorded in 13/49 patients (26.5%) prior to octreotide treatment (the prevalence of cholelithiasis in the Italian population is 9.5% in men and 18.9% in women). During octreotide therapy gallstones developed in 10/36 patients (27.7%). No significant correlations with sex, age, body mass index, duration of the disease, daily dose and duration of octreotide therapy, altered gall-bladder form, family history of gallbladder stones, basal plasma values of cholesterol and triglycerides were found between the patients (10/36) who developed stones during octreotide treatment and the ones who did not (26/36). Fourteen patients (10 with newly developed stones and four with cholelithiasis diagnosed prior to octreotide) were put on ursodeoxycholic acid at the daily dose of 10 mg/kg. Gallstones completely disappeared in 6/14 patients (42.8%; five patients with newly developed stones and one with stones prior to octreotide therapy) after a mean of 30.8 months of ursodeoxycholic acid treatment. In addition, seven patients were treated with ursodeoxycholic acid at the preventive dose of 450 mg, administered as a once-a-day oral preparation in the evening. However, stones developed in one of these seven patients who was thereafter cured (gallstones completely disappeared) by the therapeutic dose of ursodeoxycholic acid of 10 mg/kg/day after 23 months of treatment.
Conclusions: This study indicates that (i) acromegaly by itself is correlated with a high prevalence of gallbladder stones, (ii) the long-term treatment with octreotide increases the incidence of cholelithiasis, and (iii) ursodeoxycholic acid is useful in the treatment of gallstones in acromegalic patients but its prophylactic effect in patients on octreotide treatment requires further assessment.