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Oral Cholecystogram (cont.)

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When is an oral cholecystogram useful?

The OCG is an excellent procedure for diagnosing gallstones. It finds gallstones 95% of the time. However, the OCG has tended to be replaced by ultrasonography because ultrasonography is slightly better at diagnosing gallstones and can be done immediately without waiting one or two days for the OCG's iodine to be absorbed, excreted, and concentrated. The OCG also cannot give information about the presence of non-gallstone related diseases, which ultrasonography is sometimes able to do. A limitation of the OCG is that it does not work well when there is more than a minimal amount of jaundice. Fortunately, most people with gallstones are not jaundiced.

As would be expected, ultrasonography sometimes finds gallstones that are missed by the OCG. Less frequently, the OCG finds gallstones that are missed by ultrasonography. For this reason, if gallstones are strongly suspected but ultrasonography does not show them, it is reasonable to consider doing an OCG. So OCGs are still done, and for good reason.
Last Editorial Review: 10/26/2003


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