OBJECTIVE: Gastrectomy might be a risk factor for cholelithiasis and gallbladder stasis might play a major role. We studied fasting and postprandial gallbladder motility with 600 mg oral erythromycin or placebo in gastrectomized patients (with and without gallstones) and controls. METHODS: Seventeen patients operated on for gastric cancer (subtotal gastrectomy: n = 10, total gastrectomy: n = 7) were compared with 20 sex- and body-size matched healthy controls. Subjects randomly received erythromycin or placebo 30 min before the ingestion of a standard 200 ml liquid test meal. Gallbladder volume was estimated by ultrasonography until 120 min after test meal. A visual analog scale monitored GI perception of appetite, satiety, nausea, abdominal fullness and epigastric pain. RESULTS: Gastrectomized patients had increased fasting gallbladder volume (35.9 ± 3.4 ml versus 21.0 ± 1.4 ml, p = 0.0005) with faster postmeal emptying (T/2 14.8 ± 1.1 min versus 23.5 ± 1.5 min, p = 0.00019) than controls. Six patients developed small and asymptomatic gallstones, which did not influence gallbladder motility. In these patients, fasting gallbladder volume increased with time after surgery (r = +0.82, p = 0.047). Perception of satiety, abdominal fullness, and epigastric pain after ingestion of the test meal were all significantly greater in patients than in controls. Erythromycin significantly enhanced gallbladder emptying during fasting (p = 0.001) and postprandially in both patients and controls (0.002<p <0.017) and significantly reduced postmeal satiety and epigastric discomfort in gastrectomized patients. CONCLUSIONS: Increased fasting volume might be a form of stasis, predisposing patients to gallstone formation. Erythromycin improves fasting and postprandial gallbladder emptying and decreases upper GI symptoms in gastrectomized patients. (C) 2000 by Am. Coll. of Gastroenterology.
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