Periampullary diverticula and pancreaticobiliary disease

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Periampullary diverticula (PAD) are extraluminal outpouchings of the duodenum arising within a radius of 2-3 cm from the ampulla of Vater. They are frequently encountered in elderly patients undergoing endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and contribute to failure of ERCP. This review details the relationship of PAD to pancreaticobiliary disease and the influence of PAD on the management of patients.


The United States National Library of Medicine Medline database was searched for articles on and related to PAD published in English within the past 15 years. Major earlier works were also reviewed.


The prevalence of PAD increases with age and could be as high as 27 per cent. PAD are associated with an incompetent sphincter of Oddi and colonization of bile duct with beta-glucuronidase-producing organisms. PAD are implicated in the pathogenesis of pigment common bile duct stones, but there is no conclusive evidence to associate them with cholecystolithiasis or pancreatitis. PAD are a major cause of failure of ERCP, but success rates of more than 90 per cent have been achieved in specialist centres.


With an ageing population, there will be an increase in elderly patients with PAD and symptomatic pancreaticobiliary disease. Continuing improvements in radiological and endoscopic techniques should enable this vulnerable group to be treated effectively and safely.

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