Safety of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography during pregnancy

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The risk of choledocholithiasis is expected to be higher during pregnancy. This is attributed to alteration in bile composition as well as biliary stasis that take place during gestation. There is significant concern regarding application of endoscopic procedures especially the more invasive ones for treatment of choledocholithiasis during pregnancy. Our aim was to provide an additional support to the efficacy and safety of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) in the management of biliary diseases during pregnancy.


The medical records of 10 pregnant patients who underwent ERCP at King Abdullah University Hospital, during the period from 2002 to 2007 were reviewed. Pregnancy course and outcomes were followed up in all cases. Results were analysed and compared with published data on safety and efficacy of this procedure.


The mean age for mothers was 24.3 years. The mean duration of gestation was 18.4 weeks. Two patients were in the first trimester, five were in their second trimester and another three in the third trimester. The main indication for ERCP was obstructive choledocholithiasis on ultrasound and liver function tests. Fetal radiation exposure was not routinely measured. During, or after, the procedure there was no need for tocolytic agents. Also there was no intrauterine fetal distress. Screening for congenital anomalies was negative in all cases.


Major complications of biliary obstruction have been prevented through this procedure. Short-term follow up for all neonates whom mothers underwent ERCP during pregnancy supports its safety. However, specific long-term fetal complications of radiation exposure have not been investigated yet.

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