Background and study aims: There have been growing concerns about the long-term sequelae of endoscopic sphincterotomy (ES). The aims of the study were to evaluate the long-term clinical outcome of ES for choledocholithiasis and to identify the predictors of recurrence.
Patients and methods: A total of 529 patients (233 men, 296 women; mean age 63, range 9 - 88) who underwent successful ES for choledocholithiasis were evaluated. Follow-up data were obtained retrospectively. Statistical analyses were carried out for 334 patients who had a follow-up of at least 5 years or had recurrence.
Results: Immediate complications occurred in 37 patients (7 %). Follow-up data were available in 458 patients (86.6 %), of whom 280 (61.1 %) were asymptomatic, 127 (27.7 %) died from unrelated causes without recurrence, and 51 (11.1 %) had biliary symptoms and/or choledocholithiasis recurrence. Most recurrences (65 %) occurred more than 2 years following ES and were observed on multiple occasions in 13 patients (2.8 %). A bile duct diameter of 22 mm or greater was found to predict recurrence. Of 190 patients with an intact gallbladder, 11 (5.8 %) developed acute cholecystitis necessitating emergency cholecystectomy; all of these had previously documented gallstones.
Conclusions: Endoscopic sphincterotomy for choledocholithiasis is found to be safe at long-term follow-up. A dilated bile duct (> or = 22 mm) is a marker for patients at increased risk of recurrence of symptoms and/or choledocholithiasis.