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Singapore Med J. 2005 Nov;46(11):621-6.

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography in the elderly: outcomes, safety and complications.

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Gastroenterology Unit, Department of Medicine, RIPAS Hospital, Bandar Seri Begawan BA1710, Negara Brunei Darussalam.



As the population ages, the incidence of biliary tract pathologies also increases, leading to an increase in the demand for endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) interventions. Our aims are to assess the outcomes, safety and complications associated with ERCP performed in an elderly population.


Patients aged 80 years or over referred for ERCP from January 1999 to September 2002, were identified and retrospectively reviewed.


103 patients (68 females, mean age 84.6 +/- 3.9 years old) underwent 144 procedures (1-6 procedures/patient). The main indications were cholangitis (51.4 percent), choledocholithiasis (19.4 percent) and blocked stents (14.6 percent). Malignancies represented 5.6 percent of indications. The mean procedure time was 38 +/- 16 minutes. The overall success rate was 80.5 percent. Minor events occurred in 23 percent (tachycardia 13, desaturation six, transient hypotension six, self-limiting bleed four, extravasations three, and mild pancreatitis one). Major events were post sphincterotomy bleeding (five days post-procedure) one, duodenal perforation one (Billroth-II gastrectomy, survived after surgery), cholangitis two, and one death was probably procedure-related (acute myocardial event five days post-stenting in a patient with Klatskin tumour). Seven deaths occurred within one month of ERCP, due to advanced malignancies (four), sepsis (two) and acute myocardial infarction (one). Patients who died within one month had significantly higher serum urea (p-value equals 0.001), and creatinine (p-value equals 0.007) levels, and lower haemoglobin (p-value equals 0.014) level. More patients had an underlying malignancy (p-value less than 0.001). In addition, they were given significantly less conscious sedation (midazolam [p-value equals 0.002] and fentanyl [p-value equals 0.018]).


Our study showed that ERCP is safe in an elderly Asian population. Minor complications are usually transient and related to sedation, and mortality is usually related to severity of illness and underlying malignancies.

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