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27.04.2021 | original article Open Access

Porcelain gallbladder and its relationship to cancer

European Surgery
MD Dr. Natale Calomino, MD Maximilian Leonardo Philip Federico Scheiterle, MD Daniele Fusario, MD Noemi La Francesca, MD Ignazio Martellucci, MD Daniele Marrelli
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Porcelain gallbladder (PGB) is defined as calcium deposits encrusting the internal visceral layer, which becomes hard, brittle, and bluish. Porcelain gallbladder is rare and has been found in less than 1% of routine cholecystectomy specimens. Several studies report an incidence of gallbladder carcinoma (GBC) associated with gallbladder calcification varying between 12.5 and 61%, data which have been known for 60 years. There is a lack of information concerning PGB and its association with GBC, and the aim of this study is to better define this relationship.


A total of 10 patients were found to have PGB in 1050 consecutive routine surgical cholecystectomies. Clinical and laboratory findings, gallbladder histologic examination, bile culture, and bile pH were related to stone composition analysis performed by X‑ray diffraction using Perkin–Elmer (Perkin Elmer Corp. Norwalk, CT, US) 1625 FTIR.


Among the 10 patients with PGB, complete calcification of the entire gallbladder wall was present in six cases, while four patients had partial calcification. Gallstones were present in all cases of PGB, multiple stones in nine cases and a single stone in one case. Bile culture was performed in all patients of the series. Among the 10 cases with PGB, culture was positive in two cases.


PGB is a disease as rare as it is subtle. Moreover, the chronic stimulation by stones can generate an initial dysplasia that will subsequently turn into a neoplasm: the cancerization risk is probably no different from long-standing cholesterol or combined stones, but as risk factor for cancer it requires early cholecystectomy.

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