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Endoscopy. 2002 Aug;34(8):624-7.

Impact of gallbladder status on the outcome in patients with retained bile duct stones treated with extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy.

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  • 1Department of Medicine C, Klinikum Ludwigshafen, Academic Hospital of the University of Mainz, Ludwigshafen, Germany.



The use of endoscopic therapy in combination with lithotripsy techniques has become increasingly common in patients with complicated common bile duct stones. In many units, although this is controversial, cholecystectomy is then performed, because of possible subsequent cholecystitis and recurrence of choledocholithiasis. The aim of this study was to investigate whether gallbladder status influences the long-term outcome in patients after extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL) of common bile duct stones.


Recruited for the study were 120 patients with an average age of 68 years (range 28 - 86). They were selected from 137 consecutive patients who presented to our department between January 1989 and June 1996 with complicated common bile duct stones, and in whom ESWL was necessary to achieve complete clearance of stones. Follow-up data were obtained from the patients and their general practitioners.


The mean duration of follow-up was 4 years (range 3 - 9). A total of 37 patients had their gallbladder in situ (group A), while 83 had undergone cholecystectomy. Of these 83 patients, 27 had had a cholecystectomy after ESWL (group B), whereas 56 patients had already had the gallbladder removed when choledocholithiasis was diagnosed (group C). During follow-up, 36 patients (30 %) experienced some biliary symptoms. There were no significant differences in the incidence of recurrent biliary symptoms between the three groups. Re-exploration of the bile duct by endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) revealed 28 cases of recurrent bile duct stones. Recurrence developed more often in groups B and C, who had undergone cholecystectomy, without reaching statistical significance ( P = 0.077). In patients with an intact gallbladder (group A), there was no difference in the rate of recurrent biliary symptoms or stones between the patients with or without cholecystolithiasis. Operations were necessary in 28 patients; in only ten was this for biliary reasons.


The intact gallbladder is not a risk factor for recurrent biliary complications after ESWL of common bile duct stones; therefore, as far as patients with complicated bile duct stones which require additional lithotripsy techniques are concerned, elective cholecystectomy after endoscopic clearance of the bile duct no longer seems appropriate.

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