Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) prevents in vitro gallbladder (GB) muscle damage caused by acute cholecystitis and reduces risk of biliary pain and complications in gallstone (GS) patients. These effects could be partially explained by the improved GB bile turnover. Objectives: To assess the effect of short-term UDCA treatment on GB motility and bile turnover. Methods: Ultrasonographic (US) assessment of GB volumes was performed in 16 GS patients, in the postprandial phase, for 90 min with a time sampling of 1 min, before and after 30 days of UDCA (10 mg kg-1 die-1) or placebo, randomly assigned. US data were analysed with statistical tools and with computer fluido-dynamic (CFD) software Fluent™ to simulate GB bile flow. Results: After therapy, fasting volume (FV) increased from 21.6 ± 9 to 28.2 ± 12 mL (p < 0.001) while the ejection fraction (EF) remained unchanged (44.5 ± 17% vs 45.1 ± 20%; p: ns). Volumes before and after treatment were poorly correlated (0.02 < r < 0.35), unlike those in placebo patients (r > 0.6). The average GB volume was increased in 7 out of 10 patients following UDCA (range 7-67%). CFD analysis supports the finding of improved bile flow after treatment. Conclusions: Unlike results of conventional US parameters of GB motility, CFD analysis shows that UDCA improves GB bile turnover in GS patients.
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