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Assessment of need for repeat ERCP during biliary stent removal after clinical resolution of postcholecystectomy bile leak.

OBJECTIVES: In patients who have undergone endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) with biliary stent placement for postcholecystectomy bile leak there is limited evidence to support the repeat ERCP at the time of stent removal. Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) with biliary stent removal may suffice. The aim of this study was to describe the clinical course of patients who underwent biliary stent placement for a postcholecystectomy bile leak and determine whether repeat ERCP is necessary.

METHODS: We identified all adult patients who underwent biliary stent placement for postcholecystectomy bile leak from 1 January 1996 to 31 October 2008. Demographic data, cholecystectomy details, and procedural data were collected, specifically focusing on closure of the bile leak. Time to resolution of leak was calculated, up to either the date of the first repeat ERCP that demonstrated no persistent leak or the date of removal of any radiologically placed percutaneous drain, whichever came first.

RESULTS: Sixty-four patients underwent repeat ERCP with biliary stent removal. The median time to repeat ERCP was 36 days (interquartile range (IQR) 26-48). Fifty-seven (89%) patients had resolved the leak by time of repeat ERCP. Of those in whom the leak had not resolved, 6 had a repeat exam within 14 days of stent placement; 4 of these resolved the leak by day 39. There were no procedure-related complications in the ERCP group. Thirteen patients underwent EGD with stent removal after a median of 29 days (IQR 23-38). None had adverse events, with a median follow-up of 38 months. Overall, the median time to resolution of biliary leak was 33 days (IQR 22-44). Importantly, repeat ERCP altered the management in only one patient in whom bile duct stones were found.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with uncomplicated postcholecystectomy bile leak who have clinically resolved their leak do not require cholangiography at the time of stent removal. In these patients, EGD with stent removal at 4-6 weeks seems to be sufficient and significantly less expensive.

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