Acute acalculous cholecystitis in a patient with primary Epstein-Barr virus infection: a case report and literature review

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Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) infection can lead to infectious mononucleosis syndrome with the typical symptoms of fever, pharyngitis, and lymphadenopathy. Self-limited mild to moderate elevation of liver enzymes and hepatosplenomegaly are common. However, cholecystitis is not usually considered part of a primary EBV infection and ultrasound scan (USS) of the liver and gallbladder is not routinely performed. Acute acalculous cholecystitis (AAC) caused by etiologies other than primary EBV infection is often associated with severe illness and antibiotic treatment and surgery may be needed. We present a case with primary EBV infection and AAC and a literature review. Our patient was a 34-year-old woman with clinical, biochemical and serological signs of primary EBV infection (lymphocytes 7.6×10˄9/l, monocytes 2.6×10˄9/l, positive early antigen IgM test and 14 days later positive early antigen IgG test). During admission, increasing liver function tests indicated cholestasis (alanine aminotransferase 61 U/l, alkaline phosphatase 429 U/l and bilirubin 42μmol/l). USS revealed a thickened gallbladder wall indicating cholecystitis but no calculus. All other microbiological tests were negative. The literature search identified 26 cases with AAC and acute EBV infection; 25 cases involved females. Sore throat was not predominant (six reported this), and all cases experienced gastrointestinal symptoms. Our and previous published cases were not severely ill and recovered without surgical drainage. In conclusion primary EBV infection should be considered in cases of AAC, especially in young women. In cases associated with EBV infection neither administration of antibiotics nor surgical drainage may be indicated.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Infectious Diseases
Pages (from-to)67-72
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • Acalculous Cholecystitis/complications
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholecystitis, Acute/complications
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections/complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ultrasonography
  • Young Adult


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