New Johns Hopkins Study Could Reduce The Need For Gallbladder Removals


A new study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins could have implications for personalized medicine, which incorporates patients’ unique characteristics into understanding and treating illnesses. In 2012, there were a reported 275,000 acute pancreatitis-related hospital admissions, costing more than $2 billion.

The findings determined that most patients, who were diagnosed with acute biliary pancreatitis, underwent a cholecystectomy, surgical removal of the gallbladder, but those that did not coped well over a four-year period, with routine follow-ups.



Acute biliary pancreatitis, often the result of gallstones, can be a life-threatening illness, with severe complications, which increase with recurrent attacks. Medical experts recommend cholecystectomy within four weeks of the initial diagnosis.

The researchers found that 70 percent of the participants, who did not undergo a cholecystectomy for whatever reason, were not hospitalized for pancreatitis again. The adherence to the medical guidelines of pancreatitis hospitalization was examined carefully and the discovery of patients that do not adhere to the guidelines was incidental.

The lead author for the study, Ayesha Kama, M.B.B.S. and assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, examined approximately 17,000 cases between 2010 and 2013 in the United States. The 3,705 patients were under the age of 65 and covered under a private insurance policy. Within 30 days of their initial hospitalization date, 78 percent of patients had their gallbladders removed. Less than ten percent of those patients were hospitalized again at a later date with pancreatitis, but adhered to the accepted medical guidelines.

A total of 1,213 patients underwent a cholecystectomy within six months, while about 2,500 patients did not and four years later, they still had their gallbladder.

A previous study found that in most cases a cholecystectomy prevents hospital readmissions. According to the authors, there are several barriers that could prevent people, who have pancreatitis to follow medical advisor recommendations, including surgeon preference, lack of resources and inaccurate billing coding.

The researchers published the findings in The American Journal of Gastroenterology.

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