Central Surgical Association| Volume 114, ISSUE 4, P806-814, October 1993

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Use of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography in the management of biliary complications after laparoscopic cholecystectomy

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      Background. Current options in the management of bile duct injuries caused by laparoscopic cholecystectomy include diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and open laparotomy with direct repair. The goal of this review was to clarify the role and evaluate the potential of endoscopic techniques to diagnose and treat bile duct injuries.
      Methods. The records of all patients undergoing biliary tract surgery at our hospitals for the period from December 1989 to February 1993 were reviewed. Twenty-five patients were identified with bile duct injuries during laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
      Results. ERCP was performed for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes in 22 of the 25 patients; successful opacification of the biliary tree was achieved in 21 (95%) of the 22 patients. In these 21 patients the location and nature of the injury were identified correctly in 19 (90%). In six of the 25 cases, interventional ERCP was used as the primary treatment of these injuries. Successful treatment was achieved in five (83%) of the six cases, although laparotomy was required in two to drain the abscess cavity better. Open surgical repair was performed as the primary treatment in the remaining 19 patients. Interventional ERCP with stenting was required in six and transhepatic stenting in one of these patients as an adjunctive treatment for stricture or persistent fistula. Six (86%) of these seven patients have been treated successfully to date in this manner.
      Conclusions. ERCP is a uniquely helpful diagnostic and therapeutic technique in the management of laparoscopic biliary complications. Open surgical repair remains the procedure of choice for patients with loss of bile duct tissue or long complex strictures. ERCP with sphincterotomy, balloon dilatation, and stenting is an accepted alternative approach for bile leaks (fistulas) and treatment of shorter strictures resulting from either the initial laparoscopic injury or the initial repair.
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