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Etymology: Ludwig Courvoisier, Swiss surgeon, 1843-1918
a statement that the gallbladder is smaller than usual if a gallstone blocks the common bile duct but is dilated if the common bile duct is blocked by something other than a gallstone, such as pancreatic cancer.
Disease processes associated with prior inflammation of the gallbladder (e.g., gallstones) produce scarring, which prevents enlargement of the gland. When the common bile duct is obstructed by cancer, the gallbladder becomes palpably dilated. See: Courvoisier's sign
See also: Courvoisier, Ludwig Georg