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Gallstone pancreatitis: when is endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography truly necessary?

Matthias Kraft, Markus M Lerch
Current Gastroenterology Reports 2003, 5 (2): 125-32
12631452
Acute pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that can, in a minority of patients, lead to local complications, multiorgan failure, and death. Gallstones are the most common cause of acute pancreatitis in Western countries. The majority of patients with acute gallstone pancreatitis have mild disease and recover within 3 to 5 days with bed rest and intravenous fluid replacement. In up to 20% of patients, severe pancreatitis develops and can involve pancreatic tissue necrosis and multiorgan failure. Recent advances in the care of patients with gallstone-induced pancreatitis include better severity stratification on hospital admission, more aggressive fluid resuscitation in the early disease course, early use of antibiotics in patients with pancreatic necrosis, a shift from parenteral to enteral feeding regimens, a better defined and less aggressive approach to pancreatic surgery, and the possibility to remove impacted gallstones endoscopically. Urgent endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography and sphincterotomy are recommended in patients with signs of cholangitis or jaundice, ultrasound evidence of dilated common bile duct, or evidence of severe disease.

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