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Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2010 Apr;92(3):206-10. doi: 10.1308/003588410X12628812458293. Epub 2010 Mar 10.

Prospective evaluation of a selective approach to cholangiography for suspected common bile duct stones.

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1
Department of General Surgery, Glan Clwyd Hospital, Rhyl, UK.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Common bile duct (CBD) stones can cause serious morbidity or mortality, and evidence for them should be sought in all patients with symptomatic gallstones undergoing cholecystectomy. Routine intra-operative cholangiography (IOC) involves a large commitment of time and resources, so a policy of selective cholangiography was adopted. This study prospectively evaluated the policy of selective cholangiography for patients suspected of having choledocholithiasis, and aimed to identify the factors most likely to predict the presence of CBD stones positively.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

Data from 501 consecutive patients undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) for symptomatic gallstones, of whom 166 underwent IOC for suspected CBD stones, were prospectively collected. Suspicion of choledocholithiasis was based upon: (i) deranged liver function tests (past or present); (ii) history of jaundice (past or present) or acute pancreatitis; (iii) a dilated CBD or demonstration of CBD stones on imaging; or (iv) a combination of these factors. Patient demographics, intra-operative findings, complications and clinical outcomes were recorded.

RESULTS:

Sixty-four cholangiograms were positive (39%). All indications for cholangiogram yielded positive results. Current jaundice yielded the highest positive predictive value (PPV; 86%). A dilated CBD on pre-operative imaging gave a PPV of 45% for CBD calculi; a history of pancreatitis produced a 26% PPV for CBD calculi. Patients with the presence of several factors suggestive of CBD stones yielded higher numbers of positive cholangiograms. Of the 64 patients having a laparoscopic common bile duct exploration (LCBDE), four (6%) required endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) for retained stones (94% successful surgical clearance of the common bile duct) and one (2%) for a bile leak. Of the 335 patients undergoing LC alone, three (0.9%) re-presented with a retained stone, requiring intervention. There were 12 (7%) requiring conversion to open operation.

CONCLUSIONS:

A selective policy for intra-operative cholangiography yields acceptably high positive results. Pre-operatively, asymptomatic bile duct stones rarely present following LC; thus, routine imaging of the biliary tree for occult calculi can safely be avoided. Therefore, a rationing approach to the use of intra-operative imaging based on the pre-operative indicators presented in this paper, successfully identifies those patients with bile duct stones requiring exploration. Laparoscopic bile duct exploration, performed by an experienced laparoscopic surgeon, is a safe and effective method of clearing the bile duct of calculi, with minimal complications, avoiding the necessity for an additional intervention and prolonged hospital stay.

PMID:
20223077
PMCID:
PMC3080093
DOI:
10.1308/003588410X12628812458293
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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