Gallbladder cancer: Can ultrasonography evaluate extent of disease?
This study reviews the spectrum of sonographic findings in patients with gallbladder cancer, attempts to determine if sonography can identify patients with potentially resectable disease, and emphasizes the limitations of ultrasonography in the evaluation of -gallbladder cancer. Thirty-five consecutive patients with histologically proven gallbladder carcinoma who had preoperative abdominal ultrasonography and surgery were identified. Involvement of the gallbladder and gallbladder fossa, metastases, bile ducts, portal vein, and adjacent lymph nodes was assessed sonographically. The extent of disease and staging as revealed by sonography was compared to operative and surgical pathologic findings. Masses in the gallbladder or gallbladder fossa were present at surgery in 26 patients; 22 (85%) of these masses were shown by sonography. Sonography identified six (67%) of nine cases of pathologically confirmed liver metastases, 11 (79%) of 14 cases of bile duct involvement, and two (67%) of three cases of portal venous involvement by tumor. Sonography revealed lymph node metastases in only five (36%) of 14 patients. None of the 12 cases with peritoneal metastases was identified sonographically. By surgical staging 16 (46%) patients had potentially resectable disease (stage III or less), and 19 (54%) patients had unresectable stage IV disease. Sonography correctly identified 15 (94%) of 16 patients with potentially resectable disease and seven (37%) of 19 patients with advanced disease. Twelve patients with advanced disease were under-staged: nine had peritoneal metastases, two had liver metastases, and one had celiac adenopathy, which was not shown by sonography. In conclusion, sonography is reliable in the detection of a primary gallbladder mass or of local extension of tumor into the liver. However, sonographic findings do not accurately reflect the full extent of disease, and sonography is particularly limited in the diagnoses of metastases to the peritoneum and lymph nodes.