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Atypical presentation of an advanced obstructive biliary cancer without jaundice

Vincent Bryan Salvador, Pushkinder Samrao, Anatoly Leytin, Mohammed Basith

(Department of Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Queens Hospital Center, Jamaica, Jamaica, USA)

Am J Case Rep 2013; 14:462-466

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.889620

Published: 2013-11-06


Background: Cholangiocarcinoma remains to be a challenging case to diagnose and manage as it usually presents in advanced stage and survival rate remains dismal despite the medical breakthroughs. It is usually classified as intrahepatic, perihilar or distal tumor which can lead to bile duct obstruction causing sluggish flow of bile through the biliary tract and promoting increased absorption of bilirubin, bile acids and bile salts into systemic circulation accounting for the occurrence of jaundice, dark-colored urine and generalized pruritus. It usually becomes symptomatic when the tumor has significantly obstructed the biliary drainage causing painless jaundice and deranged liver function with cholestatic pattern. Jaundice occurs in 90% of the cases when the tumor has obstructed the biliary drainage system. A markedly dilated gallbladder as initial presenting feature in the absence of other typical obstructive clinical manifestations of an advanced stage of the cholangiocarcinoma is rare.
Case Report: This case report presents an atypical case of an elderly woman who presented with advanced metastatic ductal cholangiocarcinoma with markedly dilated gallbladder and liver mass without other clinical manifestations and laboratory evidence of cholestatic jaundice.
Conclusions: The mere presence of Courvoisier’s sign, even in the absence of other signs of biliary obstruction, could be suggestive of advanced neoplastic process along the biliary tract. Laboratory evidence of cholestasis might lag behind the clinical severity of the biliary obstruction in cholangiocarcinoma.

Keywords: obstructive jaundice, Courvoisier's sign, Cholangiocarcinoma, Adenocarcinoma



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