Management of common bile duct stones: selective endoscopic retrograde cholangiography and endoscopic sphincterotomy: short- and long-term results

W H Schreurs, J R Juttmann, W N H M Stuifbergen, H J M Oostvogel, T J M V van Vroonhoven
Surgical Endoscopy 2002, 16 (7): 1068-72

BACKGROUND: Common bile duct stones are still a frequent problem. Although new diagnostic and therapeutic techniques are continually being development, they remain poorly defined. Therefore, we decided to evaluate our standard method of diagnosing and treating common bile duct stones. The aim of the study was to determine the short- and long-term results of this method.

METHODS: Between 1985 and 1995, 552 consecutive patients (200 men and 352 women; median age, 69 years) underwent endoscopic retrograde cholangiography (ERC) because of suspected common bile duct stones. If stones were detected, they were treated endoscopically, if possible. The results and complications of this policy were recorded. Patients were followed 1-13 years after undergoing ERC and endoscopic sphincterotomy (ES). Long-term results and complications during this period were also recorded.

RESULTS: ERC was attempted in 552 patients and succeeded in 510 patients (92%): ES was attempted in 315 patients and failed in five (98%). Duct clearance was done in 271 patients; in 26 of these patients, symptoms disappeared spontaneously. Ten patients underwent common bile duct exploration. Complications occurred in 46 patients (8.3%). Mortality was 0.4%, hemorrhage occurred in 3.6%, pancreatitis in 1.4%, sepsis and cholangitis also in 1.4%, and the lithotripter basket became impacted in four patients (0.8%), necessitating to common bile duct exploration. During follow-up, 45 patients (8%) returned, 35 with recurrent stones, five with cholangitis, two with stenosis of the papilla of Vater, and one with biliary pancreatitis. In 35 cases, complications were treated endoscopically, common bile duct exploration was performed in five cases, and symptoms disappeared spontaneously in five cases.

CONCLUSIONS: ERC is a safe and reliable way of diagnosing common bile duct stones, and ES is a very efficient way of treating them. Morbidity and mortality are low, and the long-term results are very good.

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