, Volume 33, Issue 10, pp 1223-1225

Elevated serum levels of tumor marker CA19-9 in acute cholangitis

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The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between the “tumor marker,” CA19-9, and benign biliary tract disease. We measured serum and bile CA19-9 in 40 patients with (1) symptomatic cholelithiasis (N=14), (2) common bile duct obstruction without cholangitis (N=8), (3) acute cholangitis secondary to gallstone disease (N=7), and (4) acute cholecystitis (N=11). All seven patients with acute cholangitis had marked elevations of serum CA19-9 (range 190-32,000 units/ml; 75 units/ml cutoff), whereas none of the patients in the other groups had elevated levels despite similar degrees of cholestasis and similarly high levels of CA19-9 in gallbladder and common duct bile (range 7.3×104−2.3×109 units/ml). Of the three patients with cholangitis in whom CA19-9 levels were followed serially, all had rapid return of levels to normal after successful treatment. We conclude that the “tumor marker” CA19-9 is markedly elevated in the serum of patients with acute cholangitis but not in patients with other forms of benign biliary tract disease.