Biliary stones are usually found in the gallbladder, but about 10-20% may spontaneously migrate into the common bile duct where they either remain trapped or migrate subsequently via the papilla of Vater into the duodenal lumen. In some cases, biliary stones may form de novo in the common bile duct because of local precipitating factors. We here present a spectacular case of huge gallstones impacted in the common bile duct (empierrement of the common bile duct) that led to the development of acute cholangitis with septic shock. Urgent nocturnal percutaneous cholangiography permitted biliary drainage and resolution of the cholangitis while the stones were secondarily removed surgically because of the large size of the stones.
Acute suppurative cholangitis may be fatal unless adequate biliary drainage is obtained in a timely manner. The association of fever and rapid onset of jaundice in elderly patients should always make physicians think of cholangitis.