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Microgallbladder is a common abdominal manifestation of cystic fibrosis. It defines a gallbladder that has a length less than 2-3 cm and a width less than 0.5-1.5 cm on sonographic evaluation 1.
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The incidence of microgallbladder varies considerably in the literature, however most studies cite an incidence of 25-35% in patients with cystic fibrosis 1-3. In patients without cystic fibrosis, it is a very rare entity, but may have an association with idiopathic neonatal hepatitis and biliary atresia 4.
The presence of a microgallbladder is asymptomatic 2. Symptoms may become apparent if there is concurrent cholelithiasis or cholecystitis 1.
The pathogenesis of microgallbladder in patients with cystic fibrosis is not well understood. The most popular hypothesis considers microgallbladder to be a result of chronic inflammation secondary to gallstone disease leading to gross atrophy of the gallbladder.
Microgallbladder can be evaluated on ultrasound or cross-sectional imaging, although may be difficult to visualize routinely on ultrasound 5. On these modalities, microgalbladder is defined by 1:
- length: <2-3 cm
- width: <0.5-1.5 cm
There may or may not be associated gallstone disease (e.g. cholelithiasis, gallbladder sludge, etc.) present during radiographic evaluation 1-3,5.
Treatment and prognosis
Generally, no treatment is necessary 2.
- 1. Mousa MS, Feldman JC, Mahajan P. Microgallbladder: Self-Remitting Acute Cholecystitis-Like Condition Unique to Patients with Cystic Fibrosis. (2019) Case reports in radiology. 2019: 6737428. doi:10.1155/2019/6737428 - Pubmed
- 2. Robertson MB, Choe KA, Joseph PM. Review of the Abdominal Manifestations of Cystic Fibrosis in the Adult Patient. (2006) RadioGraphics. 26 (3): 679-90. doi:10.1148/rg.263055101 - Pubmed
- 3. Curry MP, Hegarty JE. The gallbladder and biliary tract in cystic fibrosis. (2005) Current gastroenterology reports. 7 (2): 147-53. doi:10.1007/s11894-005-0053-6 - Pubmed
- 4. Kliegman RM, Stanton BMD, Geme JS, Schor NF. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 2-Volume Set. (2015) ISBN: 9781455775668
- 5. Willi UV, Reddish JM, Teele RL. Cystic fibrosis: its characteristic appearance on abdominal sonography. (2012) American Journal of Roentgenology. 134 (5): 1005-10. doi:10.2214/ajr.134.5.1005 - Pubmed