Abdominal Radiology

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 1408–1414 | Cite as

Mild asymptomatic intrahepatic biliary dilation after cholecystectomy, a common incidental variant

  • Christopher J. Atkinson
  • Christopher J. LisantiEmail author
  • Ryan B. Schwope
  • Daniel Ramsey
  • Timothy Dinh
  • Allyson Cochet
  • Michael J. Reiter



The purpose of this study is to evaluate the prevalence of intra- and extrahepatic ductal dilatation in asymptomatic individuals after cholecystectomy.

Methods and materials

This IRB-approved retrospective cohort study evaluated the prevalence of intra- and extrahepatic biliary dilation in 77 consecutive post cholecystectomy patients who had CT obtained in the portal venous phase. These were then compared to age and sex matched control patients. Two radiologists in consensus blinded to surgical history evaluated the intrahepatic ducts qualitatively for dilatation. A single radiologist using the best of three orthogonal planes measured the extrahepatic ducts. Extrahepatic ducts were considered dilated if >7 mm plus 1 mm/decade after 60 years. T tests and chi-squared tests were performed.


Cholecystectomy patient duct patterns: normal ducts 26% (20/77); intra- and extrahepatic dilation 31.2% (24/77); intrahepatic dilation only 18.2% (14/77); extrahepatic dilation only 24.7% (19/77). Control patient duct patterns: normal ducts 88.3% (68/77); intra- and extrahepatic dilation 2.6% (2/77); intrahepatic dilation only 2.6% (2/77); extrahepatic dilation only 6.5% (5/77). All intrahepatic ductal dilatation was mild. Total intrahepatic dilation: 49.4% (cholecystectomy); 5.2% (control patients). The relative risk of intrahepatic ductal dilation in cholecystectomy patients was 9.5:1. Increased prevalence of intra- and extrahepatic dilation in cholecystectomy patients was statistically significant (p < 0.0001). Average extrahepatic duct was 7.8 mm (cholecystectomy) and 5.3 mm (control patients) (p < 0.001).


Mild intrahepatic biliary dilation in the setting of cholecystectomy is very common, and if not associated with clinical or biochemical evidence of obstruction is likely of no clinical significance.


Intrahepatic Cholecystectomy Biliary Dilatation 


Compliance with ethical standards


No funding was received for this study.

Conflict of interest

Dr. Lisanti receives royalties from Lippincott William-Wilkins for the book MRI: The Basics. The other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. For this type of study formal consent is not required.

Informed consent

Statement of informed consent was not applicable since the manuscript does not contain any patient data.


The view(s) expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of Brooke Army Medical Center, the U.S. Army Medical Department, the U.S. Army Office of the Surgeon General, the Department of the Army, and Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher J. Atkinson
    • 1
  • Christopher J. Lisanti
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ryan B. Schwope
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniel Ramsey
    • 1
  • Timothy Dinh
    • 1
  • Allyson Cochet
    • 3
  • Michael J. Reiter
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of RadiologySan Antonio Military Medical CenterFt Sam HoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyUniformed Services University of the Health SciencesBethesdaUSA
  3. 3.Department of GastroenterologySan Antonio Military Medical CenterFt Sam HoustonUSA
  4. 4.Department of RadiologyStony Brook University Medical CenterStony BrookUSA

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