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World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Nov 28;20(44):16544-9. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i44.16544.

Imaging tests for accurate diagnosis of acute biliary pancreatitis.

Author information

1
Valeriu Surlin, 1 Clinic of Surgery, University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Craiova, 200349 Craiova, Dolj, Romania.

Abstract

Gallstones represent the most frequent aetiology of acute pancreatitis in many statistics all over the world, estimated between 40%-60%. Accurate diagnosis of acute biliary pancreatitis (ABP) is of outmost importance because clearance of lithiasis [gallbladder and common bile duct (CBD)] rules out recurrences. Confirmation of biliary lithiasis is done by imaging. The sensitivity of the ultrasonography (US) in the detection of gallstones is over 95% in uncomplicated cases, but in ABP, sensitivity for gallstone detection is lower, being less than 80% due to the ileus and bowel distension. Sensitivity of transabdominal ultrasonography (TUS) for choledocolithiasis varies between 50%-80%, but the specificity is high, reaching 95%. Diameter of the bile duct may be orientative for diagnosis. Endoscopic ultrasonography (EUS) seems to be a more effective tool to diagnose ABP rather than endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), which should be performed only for therapeutic purposes. As the sensitivity and specificity of computerized tomography are lower as compared to state-of-the-art magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) or EUS, especially for small stones and small diameter of CBD, the later techniques are nowadays preferred for the evaluation of ABP patients. ERCP has the highest accuracy for the diagnosis of choledocholithiasis and is used as a reference standard in many studies, especially after sphincterotomy and balloon extraction of CBD stones. Laparoscopic ultrasonography is a useful tool for the intraoperative diagnosis of choledocholithiasis. Routine exploration of the CBD in cases of patients scheduled for cholecystectomy after an attack of ABP was not proven useful. A significant rate of the so-called idiopathic pancreatitis is actually caused by microlithiasis and/or biliary sludge. In conclusion, the general algorithm for CBD stone detection starts with anamnesis, serum biochemistry and then TUS, followed by EUS or MRCP. In the end, bile duct microscopic analysis may be performed by bile harvested during ERCP in case of recurrent attacks of ABP and these should be followed by laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

KEYWORDS:

Biliary; Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography; Endoscopic ultrasonography; Lithiasis; Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography; Pancreatitis

PMID:
25469022
PMCID:
PMC4248197
DOI:
10.3748/wjg.v20.i44.16544
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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