Management of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography–related perforations: Experience of a tertiary center

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Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography–induced perforation (EP) is a rare but severe complication. We describe the risk factors, management, and outcome of ERCP-induced perforations in a tertiary center.


This is a case-control study. All EP cases between March 2004 and February 2015 were compared to a control group without perforation. Data on patients, procedures, presentation, perforation type, radiologic findings, management, and outcome were assessed.


Of 6,934 endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatographies, 37 patients (0.53%) had EP. Independent risk factors included failure of cannulation, a procedure described as “difficult,” performing a precut and resection of a periampullary adenoma. Perforation was diagnosed during the procedure in 7 patients (19%). Median interval for diagnosis was 11 hours (range: 0–201 hours), with 84% diagnosed within 30 hours. The periampullary region was the most common EP site (51%). Twenty-nine patients (78%) were managed conservatively and 8 (22%) were operated. Three patients failed conservative management and required delayed operation. Failure of conservative management had a detrimental effect on morbidity and duration of stay. All patients who required operative intervention had perforation of either the duodenal free wall or the periampullary region.


Clear risk factors can be used to raise suspicion of EP. Early diagnosis and management are critical for better outcome. This is especially important when operative intervention is indicated. Nonetheless, the majority of patients may be managed conservatively.

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