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We retrospectively studied 20 patients with cystic fibrosis who underwent surgery for gallbladder disease from 1973 to 1986. A long delay between the onset of symptoms and the diagnosis was noted (mean 7.4 months). This delay was attributed to masking of the symptoms of biliary disease by the malabsorption and pulmonary symptoms seen in this patient population. There was a notable lack of common bile duct disease in our patients as well as in those reported in the literature. This may have been due to a combination of factors: the increased viscosity of the mucus, the small caliber of the gallbladder and ductal system, and the hypotonicity of the gallbladder. We do not recommend routine intraoperative cholangiography in patients with cystic fibrosis and gallbladder disease.
Cystic fibrosis is a disease with progressive pulmonary deterioration. Cholecystectomy can be performed in these patients with relative safety if careful preoperative and postoperative care is provided. We recommend early operative intervention in the patient with gallbladder disease and cystic fibrosis.
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