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Saudi J Gastroenterol. 2019 Nov 19. doi: 10.4103/sjg.SJG_92_19. [Epub ahead of print]

Safety of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) in pregnancy: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Author information

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Loma Linda University Medical Center, California, USA.
Department of Gastroenterology, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Department of School of Community Health Sciences, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.



Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a technically challenging procedure rarely associated with severe postprocedure complications. Hormonal changes during pregnancy promote cholelithiasis, but there are limited clinical data available on the outcomes of ERCP in pregnant women. ERCP techniques without irradiation were recently introduced as potential alternative. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the safety of ERCP in pregnancy and to compare outcomes of radiation versus nonradiation ERCP.

Materials and Methods:

A systematic search of PubMed, Medline/Ovid, Web of Science, and Google Scholar through April 18th, 2018 using PRISMA and MOOSE guidelines identified 27 studies reporting the outcomes of ERCP in pregnancy. Random effects pooled event rate and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated. Heterogeneity was measured by I2, and meta-regression analysis was conducted. Adverse outcomes were divided into fetal, maternal pregnancy-related, and maternal nonpregnancy-related.


In all, 27 studies reporting on 1,307 pregnant patients who underwent ERCP were identified. Median age was 27.1 years. All results were statistically significant (P < 0.01). The pooled event rate for overall adverse outcomes was 15.9% (95% CI = 0.132-0.191) in all studies combined, 17.6% (95% CI = 0.109-0.272) in nonradiation ERCP (NR-ERCP) subgroup and 21.6% (95% CI = 0.154-0.294) in radiation ERCP subgroup. There was no significant difference in the pooled event rate for fetal adverse outcomes in NR-ERCP 6.2% (95% CI = 0.027-0.137) versus 5.2% (95% CI = 0.026-0.101) in radiation ERCP group. There was no significant difference in maternal pregnancy-related adverse outcome event rate between NR-ERCP (8.4%) (95% CI = 0.038-0.173) and radiation ERCP (7.1%) (95% CI = 0.039-0.125). Maternal nonpregnancy-related adverse outcome event rate in NR-ERCP was 7.6% (95% CI = 0.038-0.145), which was half the event rate in radiation ERCP group of 14.9% (95% CI = 0.102-0.211).


ERCP done by experienced endoscopists is a safe procedure during pregnancy. Radiation-free techniques appear to reduce the rates of nonpregnancy-related complications, but not of fetal and pregnancy-related complications.


Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography; gallstones; pregnancy


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