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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Are elevated liver enzymes and bilirubin levels significant after laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the absence of bile duct injury?

OBJECTIVE: Increased aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and bilirubin levels were noted incidentally after a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The percentage in which such elevation occurs and its clinical significance in the absence of bile duct injury were investigated. SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: Bile duct injury is the most feared complication of laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Some laboratory tests may be indicative of this complication, such as increases in liver enzyme (AST, ALT, and alkaline phosphatase [ALP]) and bilirubin. These parameters have not been investigated in patients who had laparoscopic cholecystectomy and in whom no damage to the bile duct was noted. METHODS: Sixty-seven patients with normal results of preoperative liver function test were entered into the study. Blood was collected 24 hours after laparoscopic cholecystectomy, and AST, ALT, ALP, and bilirubin levels were measured. RESULTS: A mean 1.8-fold increase in AST occurred in 73% of patients; 82% showed a 2.2-fold increase in ALT. A statistically nonsignificant increase was noted in 53% of patients (ALP remained within normal limits), and in 14% of patients bilirubin levels were increased (they were primarily of the unconjugated type). CONCLUSIONS: In many patients a significant increase in AST and ALT levels occurred after laparoscopic cholecystectomy, but they returned to normal values within 72 hours. The cause of this is unclear, and these elevations appear to have no clinical significance.[1]


  1. Are elevated liver enzymes and bilirubin levels significant after laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the absence of bile duct injury? Halevy, A., Gold-Deutch, R., Negri, M., Lin, G., Shlamkovich, N., Evans, S., Cotariu, D., Scapa, E., Bahar, M., Sackier, J.M. Ann. Surg. (1994) [Pubmed]
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