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Gastrointest Endosc. 2004 Nov;60(5):721-31.

Complications of ERCP: a prospective study.

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  • 1Department of Surgical Gastroenterology, Hvidovre University Hospital, Denmark.



Studies of ERCP-related morbidity seldom include a sufficient patient follow-up. The aim of this study was to characterize and to evaluate the frequency of complications, cardiopulmonary untoward events in particular.


All patients undergoing ERCP during a 2-year period were included in this prospective study. Complications were assessed at the time of ERCP and by postal/telephone contact at 30-days after the procedure.


A total of 1177 ERCPs were included in the analysis, of which 56.2% were therapeutic. The 30-day complication rate was 15.9%; the procedure-related mortality rate was 1.0%. Post-ERCP pancreatitis occurred in 3.8% of patients (3 deaths). Hemorrhage or perforation occurred with 0.9% and 1.1%, respectively, of the procedures (3 deaths). One perforation that resulted in the death of the patient occurred after placement of an endoprosthesis. Cholangitis occurred in relation to 5% of the ERCP procedures (3 deaths). Cardiorespiratory complications occurred in 2.3% (2 deaths). Dilated bile duct ( p = 0.0001), placement of stent ( p = 0.001), and use of more than 40 mg of hyoscine-N-butyl bromide ( p < 0.05) were risk factors for complications by multivariate analysis. Risk of pancreatitis was increased with age under 40 years ( p = 0.0078), placement of stent ( p = 0.031), and a dilated bile duct ( p = 0.036).


This prospective study confirms that the complication rate of ERCP including therapeutic procedures is high. Cardiopulmonary complications were not as common as expected, despite being the special focus of the study.

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