Systematic review of intraoperative cholangiography in cholecystectomy

J A Ford, M Soop, J Du, B P T Loveday, M Rodgers
British Journal of Surgery 2012, 99 (2): 160-7

BACKGROUND: Intraoperative cholangiography (IOC) is used to detect choledocholithiasis and identify or prevent bile duct injury. The aim of this study was systematically to review the randomized clinical trials of IOC for these two indications.

METHODS: MEDLINE, Embase, the Cochrane Library, and the World Health Organization database of clinical trials were searched systematically (January 1980 to February 2011) to identify trials. Two authors performed the literature search and extracted data independently. Primary endpoints were bile duct injury and retained common bile duct (CBD) stones diagnosed at any stage after surgery. Preliminary meta-analysis was undertaken, but the trials were too methodologically heterogeneous and the outcome events too infrequent to allow meaningful meta-analysis.

RESULTS: Eight randomized trials were identified including 1715 patients. Six trials assessed the value of routine IOC in patients at low risk of choledocholithiasis. Two trials randomized all patients (including those at high risk) to routine or selective IOC. Two cases of major bile duct injury were reported, and 13 of retained CBD stones. No trial demonstrated a benefit in detecting CBD stones. IOC added a mean of 16 min to the total operating time.

CONCLUSION: There is no robust evidence to support or abandon the use of IOC to prevent retained CBD stones or bile duct injury. Level 1 evidence for IOC is of poor to moderate quality. None of the trials, alone or in combination, was sufficiently powered to demonstrate a benefit of IOC. Further small trials cannot be recommended.

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