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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


A Case of Acute Pancreatitis Associated with Early-Stage Adenocarcinoma of the Gallbladder

Challenging differential diagnosis, Rare coexistence of disease or pathology

Rachel Appelbaum, Francisco J. Alvarado, Aaron U. Blackham, Jeffrey Brodsky

USA Department of Surgery, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Allentown, PA, USA

Am J Case Rep 2019; 20:957-960

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.915543

Available online: 2019-07-04

Published: 2019-07-04


BACKGROUND: Gallstones are a common cause of acute pancreatitis. The proposed mechanism by which choledocholithiasis induces pancreatitis is mechanical obstruction of the ampulla leading to the reflux of bile into the pancreatic duct or edema resulting from a gallstone’s passage. To our knowledge, there are no previously reported cases of gallbladder adenocarcinoma as a potential cause of acute pancreatitis. Herein, we describe a patient who presented with acute necrotizing pancreatitis, without other associated risk factors, who was found to have a fragmented friable polypoid gallbladder adenocarcinoma.
CASE REPORT: A 55-year old Hispanic female with prediabetes presented to the Emergency Department with severe epigastric abdominal pain radiating to her back. The patient’s clinical presentation, laboratory tests and computed tomography imaging were suggestive of acute necrotizing pancreatitis and a gallbladder lesion concerning for neoplasm. After clinical resolution of her pancreatitis, the patient was brought to the operating room for a cholecystectomy. Final pathology revealed a stage T1aN0 gallbladder adenocarcinoma.
CONCLUSIONS: We have presented a patient with acute necrotizing pancreatitis in the absence of alcohol abuse, gallstones, biliary sludge, hypertriglyceridemia, hypercalcemia, or hereditary predisposition. Without evidence of other etiologies, we hypothesize that the friable tumor fragments of the gallbladder adenocarcinoma might be the underlying cause of pancreatitis in this patient.

Keywords: Gallbladder Neoplasms, Pancreatitis, Pancreatitis, Acute Necrotizing