Effect of endoscopic sphincterotomy and interval cholecystectomy on late outcome after gallstone pancreatitis

L E Hammarström, H Stridbeck, I Ihse
British Journal of Surgery 1998, 85 (3): 333-6

BACKGROUND: Endoscopic sphincterotomy alone, or followed by cholecystectomy, are options in patients with gallstone pancreatitis.

METHODS: Ninety-six patients of median age 74 (range 30-93) years with gallstone pancreatitis had endoscopic retrograde cholangiography and were followed for a median of 84 (range 33-168) months. Forty-eight of 49 patients with, and nine of 47 without, common bile duct (CBD) stones had urgent endoscopic sphincterotomy. One patient with, and six without, CBD stones had delayed endoscopic sphincterotomy a median of 35 (range 12-111) days after acute pancreatitis. Thus, 64 patients had endoscopic sphincterotomy (group 1) and 32 did not (group 2). Fifteen and 16 patients in each group respectively had interval cholecystectomy after a median of 3 months and 1 month.

RESULTS: Patients in groups 1 and 2 had similar rates of interval cholecystectomy (15 of 64 versus 16 of 32 patients respectively) or required cholecystectomy (15 of 49 versus five of 16 patients), recurrent CBD calculi (three of 64 versus three of 32 patients) or total length of hospitalization after interval cholecystectomy (median 15.5 and 15 days) or required (median 22 and 24 days) cholecystectomy. The overall incidence of recurrent pancreatitis was one of 64 patients in group 1 and five of 32 in group 2 (P = 0.02), but after interval cholecystectomy the recurrence rate of biliopancreatic symptoms was similar (one of 15 patients versus three of 16 patients respectively).

CONCLUSION: Endoscopic sphincterotomy, but not interval cholecystectomy, reduced the overall incidence of recurrent pancreatitis, but not of late biliary complications. Some 31 per cent of the patients required cholecystectomy, suggesting that routine cholecystectomy should be considered in fit patients following acute pancreatitis.

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