Gallbladder bile obtained at operation from five patients with no symptoms of biliary disease was undersaturated with cholesterol in every case. However, gallbladder bile from patients with stones composed of 97-100% crystalline cholesterol was on average just saturated with cholesterol when the gallbladder was functioning and undersaturated when it was not. Regardless of gallbladder function, the patients with stones had on average significantly more cholesterol in their bile than in the control group, but the differences between the mean composition of bile from functioning and non-functioning gallbladders were not significant. Common duct bile from patients with non-functioning and functioning gallbladders was on average supersaturated with cholesterol, but there was significantly more bile salt and significantly less cholesterol in the bile from patients with non-functioning gallbladders. Only in the case of patients with functioning gallbladders did the mean composition of the common duct and gallbladder biles differ significantly. The former contained significantly more cholesterol and less bile salt than the latter. It is suggested that patients with non-functioning gallbladders may be 'autocholecystectomised' with the duct bile reverting to a more 'normal' composition.
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