Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endoscopy Practice

: 2022  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 169--172

Gallbladder adenocarcinoma with incidental finding of xanthogranulomatous cholecystitis and tubercular lymphadenitis: A rare case report

Syeda Iqra Usman, Zeeshan Nahid, Asfa Shams, Kafil Akhtar 
 Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Kafil Akhtar
Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh


Gallbladder carcinoma is the fifth most common gastrointestinal malignancy and the most common malignancy of the biliary system, with a high incidence in the Gangetic belt of India. The 5-year survival rate is nearly 19.0% because of the aggressive nature of the lesion. We report a rare case of a 35-year-old female who presented with complaints of pain in the right upper abdomen with jaundice, bloating, and intolerance to fatty food for 3 months and the lump in the right upper abdomen for 1 month. Ultrasonography and computed tomography were performed which showed a thickening in the fundic region of the gallbladder with infiltration into the liver. Extended cholecystectomy was done, and a diagnosis of well-differentiated adenocarcinoma with xanthogranulomatous cholecystitis with tubercular lymphadenitis was made.

How to cite this article:
Usman SI, Nahid Z, Shams A, Akhtar K. Gallbladder adenocarcinoma with incidental finding of xanthogranulomatous cholecystitis and tubercular lymphadenitis: A rare case report.Gastroenterol Hepatol Endosc Pract 2022;2:169-172

How to cite this URL:
Usman SI, Nahid Z, Shams A, Akhtar K. Gallbladder adenocarcinoma with incidental finding of xanthogranulomatous cholecystitis and tubercular lymphadenitis: A rare case report. Gastroenterol Hepatol Endosc Pract [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Jan 27 ];2:169-172
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Full Text


Many genetic and environmental factors have been linked to carcinoma gallbladder.[1] Chronic infection of the gallbladder and environmental exposure to certain chemicals, heavy metals, and many dietary factors have been proposed to play a role in carcinoma gallbladder.[1] Gallstones are also an important risk factor for the occurrence of carcinoma of the gallbladder. The number of gallstones, size of stones, and their duration are implicated in disease causation as they are responsible for the continuous insult to the mucosa of the gallbladder.[2],[3] Large size solitary gallstones have been found associated with gallbladder carcinoma.[4] Female gender, multiparity, and smoking are other important risk factors.[4],[5]

Xanthogranulomatous cholecystitis is a rare type of chronic cholecystitis characterized by severe proliferative fibrosis and accumulation of lipid-laden macrophages. It is both a mimicker and risk factor for carcinoma of the gallbladder.[6],[7]

 Case Report

A 35-year-old female presented to the surgical outpatient department, with complaints of pain in the right upper abdomen for 3 months which was continuous, dull aching, nonradiating, and transiently relieved by analgesics. The pain was associated with bloating and vomiting. She also complained of a progressive lump in the right upper abdomen for 1 month. There was no history of yellowish discoloration of eyes and urine. Her bowel and bladder habits were regular. There was associated history of weight loss and a decrease in appetite.

On general examination, the patient was alert, oriented, and not icteric. On per abdominal examination, an irregular, nontender, nonmobile lump was noted in the right upper quadrant approximately 6 cm × 3.5 cm in size. The liver was not enlarged, but the lump was contiguous with the liver. The overlying skin was completely normal with no signs of ascites.

Her abdominal ultrasonography showed a distended gallbladder with thickened wall and a solitary oval stone of 2 cm in maximum dimension in the lumen. Computed tomography showed a distended gallbladder with asymmetric heterogeneous thickening of the fundic wall measuring 5.5 cm in largest diameter with infiltration in segments 4b and 5 of the liver, suggestive of carcinoma of the gallbladder.

She was mildly anemic with hemoglobin of 10 g/dl. Her liver function tests were within normal limits with serum carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9) of 25 units/ml. Extended cholecystectomy was performed with regional lymphadenectomy including aortocaval, interaortocaval, cystic artery, common hepatic artery, and hepatoduodenal ligament lymph nodes.

On gross examination, the gallbladder was distorted, 6 cm × 4 cm × 1 cm in size, and completely fused with liver parenchyma. The cut section showed a creamish white nodular growth of size 5 cm × 3.5 cm × 3 cm grossly involving the liver parenchyma. All the lymph nodes were bisected into two and examined. On microscopic examination, ill-formed glands with compressed lumina lined by atypical cells infiltrating the muscularis propria were seen [Figure 1]. The tumor cells in acinar configuration showed increased nuclear-to-cytoplasmic ratio, hyperchromasia, and pale eosinophilic cytoplasm surrounded by loose fibrocollagenous stroma [Figure 2] with foci of clusters of foamy histocytes and dense transmural chronic inflammatory infiltrate [Figure 3]. There was no lymphovascular, perineural invasion, and liver parenchyma margins were not involved by tumor cells. All the lymph nodes were free from tumors, but surprisingly, the cystic artery lymph node showed well-formed epithelioid cell granulomas with Langhan's giant cells, histiocytes, and dense chronic inflammation [Figure 4]. Ziehl–Neelsen stain for acid-fast bacilli was found to be negative. A diagnosis of well-differentiated adenocarcinoma (pT1bN0Mx) with xanthogranulomatous cholecystitis with tubercular lymphadenitis was given.{Figure 1}{Figure 2}{Figure 3}{Figure 4}

Our patient was prescribed 9-month regimen of four antitubercular drugs comprising isoniazid, rifampicin, ethambutol, and pyrazinamide along with six cycles of 5-fluorouracil-based chemotherapy. She is fine after 6 months of follow-up period.


Xanthogranulomatous cholecystitis is an uncommon form of cholecystitis with an overall incidence of 1.3%–1.9%, but the incident is exceptionally high in India that is 8.8%.[8] About 2%–15% of cases are associated with carcinoma gallbladder suggesting a causal association.[8],[9]

Pathogenesis of this uncommon disease includes the gallstone-induced insult to gallbladder mucosa and rupture of Rokitansky–Aschoff sinuses which result in the spreading of inflammation to adjacent structures.[10] Degradation of bile results in phagocytosis of insoluble cholesterol and bile salts by histiocytes forming lipid-laden macrophages. The extensive inflammatory process causes fibrosis and adhesions to adjacent structures mimicking carcinoma.[7],[10]

Preoperative differentiation of xanthogranulomatous cholecystitis and carcinoma gallbladder is difficult. Long recurrent abdominal pain, diffusely thick gallbladder, and cholelithiasis favor xanthogranulomatous cholecystitis, while focal thickening of gallbladder wall along with local organ infiltration on imaging and history of anorexia and weight loss favors the diagnosis of gallbladder carcinoma. Lymph nodes can be enlarged in both cases.[11] This differentiation is important as the extent of surgical resection is different in both cases. Our patient was diagnosed as gallbladder carcinoma preoperatively, and to our surprise, it was also associated with xanthogranulomatous cholecystitis with tubercular lymphadenitis.

Gallbladder carcinoma is the most common biliary epithelial malignancy, and India contributes to 10.0% of the global gallbladder cancer burden.[12] This malignant lesion can occur due to polyps and adenoma-carcinoma progression, but dysplasia-carcinoma sequence is most commonly seen. It may take up to 10 years for the progression of metaplasia to dysplasia and additional 5 years for the development of carcinoma in situ.[13],[14]

Gallbladder tuberculosis is a rare disease. The alkaline nature of bile does not allow the growth of mycobacteria, but it can mimic gallbladder carcinoma. The mode of spread can be both hematogenous and lymphatics.[15] Although our patient did not have tuberculosis of the gallbladder, one of the resected nodes showed clusters of epithelioid cell granulomas. This patient did not have any prior history of tuberculosis or history of contact.

The outcome of gallbladder carcinoma is not good, and the overall survival rate is <5.0%.[16] Postoperatively, the patient should be given concurrent radiotherapy and chemotherapy to improve survival. Fluorouracil (5-FU) is the most commonly used drug with proven safety and efficacy in several trials.[17] Our patient was also given 5-FU-based chemotherapy along with antitubercular treatment and did not develop any significant complications during 6 months of follow-up period. Many targeted therapies are under trial for gallbladder carcinoma, but there has been no major improvement in the survival of patients. Till date, combination therapy remains the standard care for advanced disease.[18] Even after cholecystectomy, patients aged more than 65 years at the time of diagnosis, adenocarcinoma with >3 cm in size, increasing tumor spread, and lymph node involvement are poor survival predictors.[19] Studies have also shown that survival is poor in gallbladder carcinoma associated with acute cholecystitis.[20] Our patient was diagnosed in the early stage of malignancy with no lymph node involvement but with associated xanthogranulomatous cholecystitis and tubercular lymphadenitis, which are additional risk factors of malignancy that can harm the overall survival and recovery of the patients.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form, the patient has given her consent for her images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patient understands that her name and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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