Charcot triad

Dr Daniel J Bell et al.

Charcot triad is the finding of pyrexia, right upper quadrant pain and jaundice, and is a traditional clinical sign of acute cholangitis.

A meta-analysis of 4288 patients in 16 studies found that the sensitivity of Charcot triad for acute cholangitis was poor (36.3%) with a much better specificity (93.2%).  However the specificity had only been provided in three of the pooled studies 1. Therefore - perhaps unsurprisingly - if the triad is positive then cholangitis is likely, but if absent one cannot confidently exclude the diagnosis.

History and etymology

Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893) was trained as a pathologist, but he was also a skilled practising physician, and for many the father of neurology - who also made important contributions to psychiatry. He also has the distinction of probably having more medical eponyms named for him than any other individual in history 2,3.

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Article information

rID: 66151
Section: Signs
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Charcot biliary triad
  • Charcot's biliary triad
  • Biliary triad
  • Triad of Charcot
  • Charcot's triad

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