Biliodigestive fistulae and gallstone ileus: Diagnostic and therapeutic considerations. Our experience

F. Stagnitti, A. Tudisco, F. Ceci, S. Nicodemi, S. Orsini, M. Avallone, V. Di Girolamo, F. Stefanelli, F. De Angelis, C. Di Grazia, B. Cipriani, F. Aiuti, A. Napoleoni, R. Mosillo, S. Corelli, G. Casciaro, A. Costantino, A. Martellucci, E. Spaziani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The biliodigestive fistula is not a rare affection in the context of acute pathology of the gastrointestinal tract. It often affects patients between 63 and 85 years old , particularly the female sex, and the most common cause is acute or chronic cholecystolithiasis.

Open issues are the delayed in the pre-operative diagnosis, and controversies exist regarding the best surgical approach. The choice of treatment options is influenced by the age of the patients and their clinical conditions and also by the presence of comorbidities and of a delayed right diagnosis.

In the 1 to 3% of cases, the biliodigestive fistula presents a gallstone ileus as complication, whose diagnosis is particularly difficult for the lack of specific signs and symptoms. The contrast-enhanced CT is considered the gold standard for a specific pre-operative diagnosis, as it directly shows the fistula.

Surgical treatments include one–stage procedure or two-stage procedure. Many studies seem to favor a deferred definitive procedure.

The Authors describe 4 cases: In 3 cases, women between 70 and 80 years old presenting an history of recurrent cholecystitis, in 2 cases, and in 1 case presenting a bowel obstruction; in 1 case a 50-years-old man, with no significant past medical history, presenting a bowel obstruction.

The Authors have performed in the 2 cases of gallstone ileus an enterolithotomy with cholecysto-duodenal fistula repair and cholecystectomy, in one-stage, and this has been possible because of the good clinical conditions of the patients and their low operative risk. In the case of fistula without the complication of gallstone ileus, the treatment approach has been cholecysto-gastric fistula closure with a gastroplastic using separate stitches and cholecystectomy, in one-stage.

We are in agreement with data in the literature regarding the delay into the diagnosis of biliodigestive fistula and with the importance to suspect it or gallstone ileus presence, although the clinical presentation is extremely non-specific.

In our experience, cholangiopancreatography-CT and CECT have made easier the pre-operative diagnosis and so reducing the delay of the treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-238
Number of pages4
JournalGiornale di Chirurgia
Issue number9-10
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2014


  • Biliodigestive fistula
  • Diagnosis
  • Gallstone ileus
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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