Cholecystitis and cholelithiasis are infrequent in children and have been historically associated with adolescent pregnancy or hemolytic disorders; however, the incidence and spectrum of cholelithiasis seem to be changing. Between 1970 and 1988, 47 children 17 years of age or less underwent cholecystectomy for cholecystitis or cholelithiasis in our hospital. The patients were divided into chronologic groups: Group 1 encompassed 1970 through 1979 (15 patients) and group 2, 1980 through 1988 (32 patients). The groups were compared for age, sex, pregnancy, blood dyscrasia, family history, obesity, use of total parenteral nutrition (TPN), and incidence of choledocholithiasis with its sequelae. A significant increase in the number of patients with cholelithiasis was found. Infants and young children were affected more frequently in group 2, and many of these young patients had a history of TPN. Choledocholithiasis was also more common in group 2 and presented with life-threatening sequelae. Calculous biliary tract disease should be considered as a possible cause of abdominal pain in children. Timely operative intervention can prevent the increasingly common sequelae of childhood cholelithiasis.
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