Dye-free Wire-guided Cannulation of the Biliary Tree During ERCP is Associated With High Success and Low Complication Rates: Outcomes in a Single Operator Experience of 822 Cases

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Deep biliary cannulation (DBC) is a prerequisite to most endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatographies (ERCPs). Numerous techniques have been described to maximize success and minimize ERCP-related complications, most notably post-ERCP pancreatitis. Dye-free cannulation by using guidewires with hydrophilic tips has been proposed as a technique with a high rate of success and a low rate of complications. We report the outcomes 822 consecutive ERCP procedures by using dye-free guidewire cannulation techniques.


To evaluate the success rate for DBC and rates of complications by using dye-free guidewire cannulation techniques.


Retrospective. Consecutive ERCP procedures with intent to achieve DBC exclusively by using dye-free guidewire technique were included. Complication data on post-ERCP pancreatitis, bleeding, perforation, and cholangitis were extracted.




Patients undergoing biliary ERCP.



Main Outcome Measurements

Success, complication rates.


Eight hundred and twenty-two ERCPs were performed on 744 patients. Five hundred and fifty-nine (68%) procedures were performed on inpatients, 263 (32%) on outpatients. DBC was successful in 801 of 822 (97%) ERCPs. In 795 of 801 (99%) ERCPs with successful DBC procedures, DBC was achieved in a dye-free fashion. Eleven patients (1.3%) developed post-ERCP pancreatitis—all cases were mild. Guidewire perforations occurred 11 times (1.3%), none required surgery. Ten of 11 patients with known or suspected (91%) guidewire perforation achieved successful DBC on repeat ERCP by the same endoscopist by using dye-free techniques.




In this large retrospective case series, a high success rate of DBC was achieved by using dye-free guidewire techniques. This technique has associated lower rates of complications in comparison to those reported earlier.

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