Endoscopic Management of Common Bile Duct Stones Leaving the Gallbladder in situ: A Cohort Study with Long-Term Follow-Up

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Background:Obstructive jaundice caused by stones is a common disorder, mostly managed by endoscopic sphincterotomy followed by cholecystectomy. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether or not clearance of the common bile duct alone is sufficient as treatment for patients with choledocholithiasis.Methods:A cohort with 447 patients with symptomatic cholecystocholedocholithiasis, undergoing endoscopic retrograde cholangiography (ERC) and if necessary sphincterotomy (ES). In 164 patients common bile duct stones were proven and treated endoscopically, without performing a subsequent cholecystectomy. All 164 patients were free of symptoms after the endoscopic intervention. This group of patients was compared with 78 patients who underwent cholecystectomy after endoscopic treatment of common bile duct stones. Patients were followed for 1-13 years after ERC and sphincterotomy results and complications were registered.Results:The ages of the 164 patients in the in situ group were significantly higher than in the cholecystectomy group and the ASA classification (American Society of Anesthesiologists) was significantly higher in the in situ patients. Mean follow-up was 70.9 months. Of the in situ patients 27 (16%) returned with biliary symptoms; 12 with common bile duct stones, three with cholangitis, and one with stenosis of Vater's papilla. Eight patients returned with cholecystitis and 3 with symptomatic cholecystolithiasis. Thirteen patients underwent cholecystectomy and 11 were managed (also) endoscopically. Minor complications were 2 wound infections and 1 bleeding after cholecystectomy. Two patients (1%) died of abdominal sepsis due to cholecystitis. Of the patients who underwent cholecystectomy, 6 (7.6%) returned during follow-up. Three patients had common bile duct stones, 2 had cholangitis and 1 patient presented with papillostenosis. Three patients needed surgical common bile duct exploration and the other 3 were treated endoscopically. After reintervention, cardiopulmonary complications were observed in 1 patient. There was no related death.Conclusion:When common bile duct stones are treated successfully by endoscopic sphincterotomy and patients are free of symptoms, there is no need for routine prophylactic cholecystectomy.

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