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JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Safe laparoendoscopic approach to biliary pancreatitis in older patients

M F McGrath, J C McGrath, J Gabbay, E H Phillips, J R Hiatt
Archives of Surgery 1996, 131 (8): 826-31; discussion 831-3
8712905

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate management strategies for biliary pancreatitis in different age groups.

DESIGN: Retrospective review.

SETTING: Large private metropolitan teaching hospital.

PATIENTS: Patients seen between January 1991 and December 1994 with a diagnosis of biliary pancreatitis (N = 136) divided into 2 groups (group 1, aged < 65 years; group 2, aged > or = 65 years).

INTERVENTIONS: Primary treatments included endoscopic retrograde cholangiography (n = 36) alone or with endoscopic sphincterotomy (n = 27); operative procedures, including cholecystectomy by laparoscopic (n = 54) or open (n = 16) approaches; or no definitive therapy (n = 22). Secondary treatments of common bile duct stones included laparoscopic transcystic bile duct exploration (n = 5), open common bile duct exploration (n = 4), or postoperative endoscopic retrograde cholangiography (n = 10).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Success of interventions, incidence and treatment of common bile duct stones, morbidity and mortality rates, frequency of retained stones, and length of hospitalization.

RESULTS: Numbers of Ranson criteria were higher for older patients (group 1, 0.83 +/- 0.12 vs group 2, 1.57 +/- 0.11 [mean +/- SEM]; P < .001). Primary endoscopic retrograde cholangiography with or without endoscopic sphincterotomy was performed earlier than operative procedures, with a significantly higher incidence of common bile duct stones (72% vs 19%; P < .001). Number of primary procedures and complication and mortality rates for endoscopic retrograde cholangiography with or without endoscopic sphincterotomy were 36, 8%, and 3%, respectively; for laparoscopic cholecystectomy, 54, 9%, and 2%, respectively; and for open cholecystectomy, 16, 6%, and 19%, respectively. For complication and mortality rates, there were no statistical differences between groups or among treatments. Deferred therapy was used in 30 patients, with 20% readmitted for recurrence of biliary pancreatitis. Length of intensive care unit and total hospital stay were similar for all groups and treatments.

CONCLUSIONS: Older patients with biliary pancreatitis may be safely treated with a combined laparoendoscopic approach. Management of common bile duct stones depends on age, with laparoscopic transcystic duct exploration or open common bile duct exploration preferred for younger patients and laparoscopic transcystic duct exploration or postoperative endoscopic sphincterotomy for older ones. Deferred therapy has a substantial relapse rate.

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