Objective: Widespread use of laparoscopic cholecystectomy has extended the indications for endoscopic sphincterotomy (ES) to young patients with choledocholithiasis; however, long-term results of ES and risk factors for late complications are largely unknown.
Methods: Between 1977 and 1990, 145 patients aged 60 yr or younger underwent ES for choledocholithiasis. Long-term outcomes of ES were investigated in the year 2000, and prognostic factors for late complications were multivariately analyzed.
Results: Long-term information was available in 135 cases (93.1%), with a median overall follow-up duration of 14.5 yr (range, 6.5-22.3 yr). There were neither biliary malignancies nor deaths attributable to biliary disease. Sixteen patients (11.9%) developed late complications, including choledochal complications (stone recurrence and/or cholangitis; 14 patients) and acute cholecystitis (two of 32 patients with the gallbladder in situ). Multivariate analysis identified two independent risk factors for choledochal complications: bile duct diameter > or = 15 mm and brown pigment stones at the initial ES. Choledochal complications were endoscopically manageable. All recurrent stones were brown pigment stones.
Conclusions: Approximately 12% of patients develop late complications after ES, but retreatment with ERCP is effective. ES is a reasonable alternative even in young patients with choledocholithiasis. Careful follow-up is necessary, however, particularly for patients with a dilated bile duct or brown pigment stones.