[Acute biliary pancreatitis. Therapeutic trends]

G Maione, E Guffanti, A Fontana, C Pozzi, F Baticci, S Noto, M Franzetti
Minerva Chirurgica 1999, 54 (12): 843-50

BACKGROUND: Treatment of biliary pancreatitis includes suppression of the biliary cause by cholecystectomy and common bile duct clearance. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and endoscopic sphincterotomy for eradication of biliary stones and laparoscopic cholecystectomy (L.C.) for residual gallbladder stones would be ideal but were once considered to be contraindicated by most surgeons. The timing of definitive biliary tract surgery and the role of ERCP have been the focus of discussion in recent years.

METHODS: During a two-year study period 51 patients with acute biliary pancreatitis were studied. Seven patients (14%) underwent emergency laparotomy, necrosectomy, cholecystectomy, exploration of the common bile duct and T-tube insertion, because unstable clinical conditions, with evidence of pancreatic and peripancreatic necrosis on CT-scan. Elective open cholecystectomy and CBD exploration were performed in 7 patients after the resolution of acute pancreatitis during the same hospital admission.

RESULTS: Early ERCP and L.C. were associated with favourable outcomes. 33 patients underwent ERCP preoperatively: 17 within 72 hours of admission and 16 after signs of clinical improvement. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy performed 3-25 days after admission was successful in 27 of 29 patients. Postsphincterectomy bleeding occurred in one patient and was treated successfully by endoscopic epinephrine injection. For median hospital stay and recurrence there were statistical differences between early and delayed ERCP.

CONCLUSIONS: ERCP and sphincterectomy have a certain role in conjunction with laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the management of patients with acute biliary pancreatitis, particularly in institutions where there is easy access to expert interventional endoscopic techniques. This policy should reduce the risk of cholangitis and recurrent pancreatitis.

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