Management of complicated biliary disease in the pediatric population

Andrea Doud, Logan Bond, Cynthia Downard, Gary Vitale, Mary Fallat, David Foley, Tiffany Wright, Sheldon Bond
Surgery 2022, 171 (3): 736-740

BACKGROUND: Cholesterol stones and biliary dyskinesia have replaced hemolytic disease as the primary indication for pediatric cholecystectomy. This study looks at the cohort of pediatric patients with complicated biliary disease, defined as choledocholithiasis and/or gallstone pancreatitis, to determine the incidence and best treatment options.

METHODS: A retrospective review of all cholecystectomies performed over 15 years admitted to the surgical service at a single free-standing children's hospital was performed. Patient factors, indications for cholecystectomy, and final treatment were recorded. Complicated gallbladder disease was defined as having image-confirmed choledocholithiasis or gallstone pancreatitis. High-risk patients were those with imaging that demonstrated definitive choledocholithiasis or cholelithiasis with common bile duct enlargement. Low risk patients were those with cholelithiasis or gallbladder sludge on imaging combined with an elevated bilirubin and/or lipase.

RESULTS: A total of 695 cholecystectomies were performed over the 15-year time period. Average patient age was 13.4 years. Of the 695 cholecystectomies, 457 were performed for stone disease (66%) (64 hemolytic) and 236 (34.0%) were performed for biliary dyskinesia. Hundred and three (14.8% of all cholecystectomies, 22.5% of those with stone disease) presented with choledocholithiasis and/or gallstone pancreatitis (complicated disease). In high-risk patients, 28/47 (59.6%) underwent endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography/sphincterotomy. In low-risk patients (no choledocholithiasis or common duct enlargement), 13/56 (23.2%) required endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography/sphincterotomy (P < .05). The indication for endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography after cholecystectomy was choledocholithiasis and none of these patients had bile leak complications.

CONCLUSION: The incidence of pediatric complicated biliary disease due to cholesterol stones is equal to that of adults. These data suggest that a patient with imaging evidence of choledocholithiasis or common bile duct enlargement may require endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, dependent on clinical course, and this should be strongly considered before cholecystectomy. Those without such radiographic findings can undergo laparoscopic cholecystectomy and have postoperative endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography if needed.

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