Endoscopic ultrasound versus magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography for common bile duct stones

Vanja Giljaca, Kurinchi Selvan Gurusamy, Yemisi Takwoingi, David Higgie, Goran Poropat, Davor Štimac, Brian R Davidson
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015 February 26, (2): CD011549

BACKGROUND: Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) are tests used in the diagnosis of common bile duct stones in patients suspected of having common bile duct stones prior to undergoing invasive treatment. There has been no systematic review of the accuracy of EUS and MRCP in the diagnosis of common bile duct stones using appropriate reference standards.

OBJECTIVES: To determine and compare the accuracy of EUS and MRCP for the diagnosis of common bile duct stones.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Science Citation Index Expanded, BIOSIS, and until September 2012. We searched the references of included studies to identify further studies and of systematic reviews identified from various databases (Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE), Health Technology Assessment (HTA), Medion, and ARIF (Aggressive Research Intelligence Facility)). We did not restrict studies based on language or publication status, or whether data were collected prospectively or retrospectively.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included studies that provided the number of true positives, false positives, false negatives, and true negatives for EUS or MRCP. We only accepted studies that confirmed the presence of common bile duct stones by extraction of the stones (irrespective of whether this was done by surgical or endoscopic methods) for a positive test, and absence of common bile duct stones by surgical or endoscopic negative exploration of the common bile duct or symptom free follow-up for at least six months for a negative test, as the reference standard in people suspected of having common bile duct stones. We included participants with or without prior diagnosis of cholelithiasis; with or without symptoms and complications of common bile duct stones, with or without prior treatment for common bile duct stones; and before or after cholecystectomy. At least two authors independently screened abstracts and selected studies for inclusion.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently collected the data from each study. We used the bivariate model to obtain pooled estimates of sensitivity and specificity.

MAIN RESULTS: We included a total of 18 studies involving 2366 participants (976 participants with common bile duct stones and 1390 participants without common bile duct stones). Eleven studies evaluated EUS alone, and five studies evaluated MRCP alone. Two studies evaluated both tests. Most studies included patients who were suspected of having common bile duct stones based on abnormal liver function tests; abnormal transabdominal ultrasound; symptoms such as obstructive jaundice, cholangitis, or pancreatitis; or a combination of the above. The proportion of participants who had undergone cholecystectomy varied across studies. Not one of the studies was of high methodological quality. For EUS, the sensitivities ranged between 0.75 and 1.00 and the specificities ranged between 0.85 and 1.00. The summary sensitivity (95% confidence interval (CI)) and specificity (95% CI) of the 13 studies that evaluated EUS (1537 participants; 686 cases and 851 participants without common bile duct stones) were 0.95 (95% CI 0.91 to 0.97) and 0.97 (95% CI 0.94 to 0.99). For MRCP, the sensitivities ranged between 0.77 and 1.00 and the specificities ranged between 0.73 and 0.99. The summary sensitivity and specificity of the seven studies that evaluated MRCP (996 participants; 361 cases and 635 participants without common bile duct stones) were 0.93 (95% CI 0.87 to 0.96) and 0.96 (95% CI 0.90 to 0.98). There was no evidence of a difference in sensitivity or specificity between EUS and MRCP (P value = 0.5). From the included studies, at the median pre-test probability of common bile duct stones of 41% the post-test probabilities (with 95% CI) associated with positive and negative EUS test results were 0.96 (95% CI 0.92 to 0.98) and 0.03 (95% CI 0.02 to 0.06). At the same pre-test probability, the post-test probabilities associated with positive and negative MRCP test results were 0.94 (95% CI 0.87 to 0.97) and 0.05 (95% CI 0.03 to 0.09).

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Both EUS and MRCP have high diagnostic accuracy for detection of common bile duct stones. People with positive EUS or MRCP should undergo endoscopic or surgical extraction of common bile duct stones and those with negative EUS or MRCP do not need further invasive tests. However, if the symptoms persist, further investigations will be indicated. The two tests are similar in terms of diagnostic accuracy and the choice of which test to use will be informed by availability and contra-indications to each test. However, it should be noted that the results are based on studies of poor methodological quality and so the results should be interpreted with caution. Further studies that are of high methodological quality are necessary to determine the diagnostic accuracy of EUS and MRCP for the diagnosis of common bile duct stones.

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