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Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2001 Feb;37(2):127-35.

Endoscopic treatment of pancreatico-biliary malignancies.

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  • 1Division of Endoscopy, Istituto Nazionale per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori, Via Venezian 1, 20133 Milan, Italy.


Biliary obstructions, due to pancreatic cancer and cholangiocarcinoma, have an ominous prognosis. At the time of diagnosis, most patients are beyond any curative treatment. Palliative therapies, such as transhepatic biliary drainage, bypass surgery, and endoscopy, have an established role in the management of such patients. Endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography (ERCP) plays a key role, allowing diagnosis, collection of cytologic and bioptic specimens, and insertion of large-bore biliary stents. The major drawback of plastic stents is the high rate of clogging, requiring frequent stent exchange. In the 1990s, self-expanding metal stents (SEMS) were developed and randomized studies have shown their superiority over plastic stents. SEMS can be successfully used in patients with hilar tumors. Duodenal obstruction due to biliopancreatic neoplasms can also be managed endoscopically. ERCP can be performed on an outpatient basis in selected patients, reducing costs related to hospitalization. A team approach is mandatory to obtain the best results.

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