[Late biliary complications after endoscopic sphincterotomy for common bile duct stones in patients older than 65 years of age with gallbladder in situ]

I Boytchev, G Pelletier, F Prat, A D Choury, J Fritsch, C Buffet
Gastroentérologie Clinique et Biologique 2000, 24 (11): 995-1000

UNLABELLED: The aim of this retrospective study was to evaluate the nature and the frequency of biliary complications after endoscopic retrograde cholangiography for common bile duct stones in elderly patients with gallbladder in situ.

METHODS: Between 1991 and 1993, 169 consecutive patients with gallbladder in situ, older than 65 years (79 +/- 8) had an endoscopic retrograde cholangiography with sphincterotomy for choledocholithiasis. Information on the early (<1 month) and late biliary complications, treatment and mortality were obtained by mail or phone calls from patients and general practitioners. Long-term data were obtained for 139 patients (82%). Mean follow-up was 56.5 months (80 months for patients still alive at the end of the study).

RESULTS: Early complications occurred in 13 patients (10.8%). Seven patients had acute cholecystitis, present before the procedure in all cases; all were treated by surgery. Other early complications included cholangitis (n =7), mild acute pancreatitis (n =3), bleeding (n =1), perforation (n =1), biliary colic (n =1), pneumopathy (n =1) and bradycardia (n =1), all treated medically. Forty patients underwent early cholecystectomy, and 5 died during the first month without biliary disease. Late complications were thus assessed in 94 patients and occurred in 13 (14%), i.e around 2% per year. Complications were acute cholangitis (n=4), biliary pain (n =4), cholecystitis (n =2), abdominal pain (n =2) and jaundice due to sphincterotomy stenosis (n =1). Five patients had cholecystectomy, 1 a radiological drainage and 7 were treated medically. No death due to a biliary complication was observed. The presence of gallstones, the absence of gallbladder opacification at cholangiography were not prognostic factors for the recurrence of biliary symptoms. 65 patients (50%) died without biliary disease during the follow-up (actuarial death rate 10.5% per year).

CONCLUSION: Late biliary complications after endoscopic retrograde cholangiography for choledocholithiasis in patients with gallbladder in situ are rare (2% per year). Prophylactic cholecystectomy after sphincterotomy does not seem warranted in elderly patients, because of rare recurrent biliary symptoms, low mortality rate, and limited life expectancy.

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