We used serial weekly ultrasonography to prospectively screen 19 critically ill trauma victims for the development of biliary sludge. Fourteen patients had sludge formation during dieir hospitalization. Sludge development was positively associated with increased transfusion requirements, but not with any other laboratory or clinical findings, including injury severity scores. The enteral feedings administered to most patients did not prevent sludge formation in the majority of cases; all five patients receiving total parenteral nutrition had sludge. Three patients had complications that could possibly be attributed to the sludge (one case of acalculous cholecystitis and two cases of mild pancreatitis). No such problems occurred in the five patients who did not have sludge. No long-term clinical problems related to sludge have occurred. We conclude that gallbladder sludge frequently develops in critically ill trauma patients and that sludge may be associated with pancreatobiliary complications.
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