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The natural history of fetal gallstones: A case series and updated literature review


Schwab, Marisa (2021), The natural history of fetal gallstones: A case series and updated literature review, Dryad, Dataset,


Introduction: The incidence of fetal gallstones is estimated at 0.45% and its clinical relevance after birth remains unknown. This study aimed to describe the natural history of fetal gallstones and their clinical sequelae after birth.

Methods: We queried a database of fetuses referred for second and third trimester sonograms performed for high-risk pregnancies, and identified cases with fetal gallstones (1996-2019). Demographics, prenatal/postnatal imaging findings, and clinical sequelae were collected. A literature review was performed according to PRISMA guidelines.

Results: We screened approximately 200,000 obstetric sonograms; 34 fetuses were found to have cholelithiasis. The median gestational age at the time of US was 35 weeks (range 22 - 38). Fifty-six percent were female and 11.8% were twin pregnancies with one affected fetus. Median maternal age was 28 years (range 17-42). Eight fetuses underwent postnatal imaging and 4 had persistent cholelithiasis. There was one case of in utero demise. Two patients had structural anomalies (renal and cardiac) by US. A subset of 17 patients was followed long-term (range 3-20 years), and none developed clinical sequelae from cholelithiasis.

Discussion/Conclusions: No child developed postnatal clinical sequelae related to cholelithiasis identified in utero. Fetal cholelithiasis can be managed expectantly without follow-up imaging in asymptomatic patients.