Comparison of the clinical characteristics and imaging findings of acute cholangitis with and without biliary dilatation.
PURPOSE Suppurative cholangitis is characterized by obstruction, inflammation, and pyogenic infection of the biliary tract. This disease represents a true emergency. The purpose of this study was to compare the computed tomography (CT) findings between acute calculous suppurative and nonsuppurative cholangitis and to determine if there are findings that assist in the differential diagnosis. MATERIALS AND METHODS Fifteen patients with acute suppurative cholangitis were enrolled in this study. Findings at endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreaticography (ERCP) were the standard of reference for suppurative cholangitis. To compare the findings of suppurative cholangitis with those of nonsuppurative cholangitis, 35 patients with nonsuppurative cholangitis were randomly selected. The following findings were evaluated: the presence of papillitis, the presence of stones in the ampulla, the presence of intrahepatic stones, the presence of early inhomogeneous enhancement of the liver, the degree of bile duct dilatation, the degree of bile duct wall thickening and presence of cholecystitis. Sensitivity and specificity for each of the individual findings were calculated. Statistical analyses were performed the Pearson chi(2) test, Fisher's exact test and the Mann-Whitney U test. RESULTS Papillitis showed the highest specificity 86% with 60% sensitivity. Marked inhomogeneous enhancement of the liver during the arterial phase showed 80% specificity with 60% sensitivity. In multivariate logistic analysis, papillitis and marked early inhomogeneous enhancement of the liver were the most significant predictors of acute suppurative cholangitis. The combination of these two CT findings improved specificity (97% specificity) for the diagnosis of suppurative cholangitis. CONCLUSION Papillitis and marked early inhomogeneous enhancement of the liver were found to be the most discriminative CT findings for the diagnosis of acute suppurative cholangitis and the differentiation between suppurative and nonsuppurative cholangitis.