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Endosc Ultrasound. 2019 Jun 20. doi: 10.4103/eus.eus_21_19. [Epub ahead of print]

An assessment of the yield of EUS in patients referred for dilated common bile duct and normal liver function tests.

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Department of Gastroenterology, University of Montreal Hospital Center, Montréal, Québec, Canada.



This study aims to determine the yield of EUS in patients with common bile duct (CBD) dilation and normal liver function tests (LFTs).

Materials and Methods:

Between October 2000 and December 2016, all patients referred for EUS for unexplained CBD dilatation (CBD ≥7 mm), with normal aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, and bilirubin and no history of sphincterotomy, were eligible. Linear-array EUS was performed by one of the two experienced endosonographers. Data were extracted from a prospectively maintained database.


Of 29,920 upper gastrointestinal EUS procedures performed, 840/29,920 (3%) were for unexplained CBD dilation. Of 840 patients, 199 (24%) had normal LFTs, 99% were Caucasian, 46% had biliary-type abdominal pain, and 41% were postcholecystectomy. EUS diagnosed choledocholithiasis (CDL) or sludge in 18/199 (9%) patients (7/18 had CBD sludge only). No other pathology was diagnosed. Of 18 CDL patients, 15 (83%) had an intact gallbladder, and all 15 patients had cholelithiasis. The frequency of CDL or sludge in postcholecystectomy patients was only 3.7% (3/82); none of these patients were younger than 69 years of age. Regression analyses showed no associations between EUS diagnosis of CDL or sludge and biliary-type abdominal pain, other symptoms, sex, or race. Each additional year of age was associated with an increase in the risk of CDL or sludge by a factor of 1.05 (odds ratio: 1.05; P = 0.034).


In patients with CBD dilation and normal LFTs, the only significant pathology identified is CBD stones or sludge (almost exclusively in elderly patients with cholelithiasis).


EUS should be avoided in patients with dilated bile ducts and normal LFTs, especially if under 65 years of age and postcholecystectomy.


Bile duct; EUS; stones


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