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Prospective evaluation of early endoscopic ultrasonography for triage in suspected choledocholithiasis: results from a large single centre series.

BACKGROUND: Endoscopic ultrasonography is accurate, safe, and cost-effective in diagnosing common bile duct stones, thus suggesting the possibility to avoid invasive endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography.

AIM: To prospectively evaluate the diagnostic and therapeutic performance of early endoscopic ultrasonography in suspected choledocholithiasis.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: All consecutive patients presenting to the Emergency Department with suspicion of choledocholithiasis between January 2010 and January 2012 were evaluated and categorized as low, moderate, or high probability of choledocholithiasis, according to accepted criteria. Endoscopic endosonography was carried out within 48 h from the admission and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography was performed soon in case of confirmed choledocholithiasis.

RESULTS: Overall 179 patients were included: 48 (26.8%) were classified as low, 65 (36.3%) as moderate, and 66 (36.9%) as high probability of choledocholithiasis. Of the 86 patients with common bile duct stones at endoscopic endosonography, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography confirmed the finding in 79 (92%). By multivariate analysis only the common bile duct diameter proved an independent predictor of common bile duct stones.

CONCLUSIONS: Early endoscopic endosonography is accurate in identifying choledocholithiasis allowing immediate endoscopic treatment and significant spare of unnecessary endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. This approach can be useful as a triage test to select patients not needing endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, allowing, in selected cases, their early discharge.

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