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Back to the gallstone: a mischievous cause of morbidity
  1. Paul Heron1,
  2. Antonio Manzelli2
  1. 1Department of Acute Medicine, Royal Devon and Exeter, Exeter, UK
  2. 2Department of Upper GI Surgery, Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Paul Heron, paulheron{at}


Laparoscopic cholecystectomies (LCs) are the gold standard treatment of symptomatic gallstone disease worldwide. However, with this technique comes the increased risk of retained spilled gallstones. We describe a case of a 77-year-old man who presented 2 months after undergoing a LC, with right upper quadrant pain. Abdominal ultrasound scan showed no significant complications, but he continued to have grumbling pains. These were investigated with an abdominal CT scan, prompting suspicion of a colorectal malignancy with pleural metastasis. However, on review by two different multidisciplinary teams, the final conclusion was probable residual gallstones with associated inflammation. This diagnosis was rather dramatically confirmed when the patient went on to expel gallstones percutaneously from his back and coughed out of his respiratory tract. This case highlights the importance of operative documentation of spilled gallstones, which can, in addition to more surprising consequences, mimic malignancy on investigation. This can lead to delay in correct management and cause undue patient distress.

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