Objectives: Data in the literature regarding complication risks after the extension of a previous endoscopic biliary sphincterotomy (repeat endoscopic biliary sphincterotomy) are limited and controversial. To explore this issue, we prospectively studied complications after repeat sphincterotomy and compared them with those of biliary endoscopic sphincterotomy in consecutive patients with choledocholithiasis.
Methods: A total of 250 patients underwent endoscopic biliary sphincterotomy and 81 underwent extension of a previous one. All patients had choledocholithiasis and were enrolled using specific criteria, excluding parameters predisposing to increased postsphincterotomy complications.
Results: The overall complication rate was 2.46% in the repeat sphincterotomy and 8.4% in the sphincterotomy group (p > 0.05). Complications for the repeat sphincterotomy and initial sphincterotomy groups, respectively, were as follows: bleeding, 2.46% and 2.8%; pancreatitis, 0% and 4.8% (p < 0.05); cholangitis, 0% and 0.4%; perforation, 0% and 0.4%; and hyperamylasemia, 3.7% and 12.8% (p < 0.05). There were no deaths. Bleeding episodes in the former group occurred when repeat sphincterotomy was performed early after the primary one.
Conclusions: Repeat sphincterotomy is a safe technique for the treatment of patients with choledocholithiasis and seems to be as safe as initial sphincterotomy. It is not associated with increased hemorrhage risk. There is a trend toward a higher risk of hemorrhage when repeat sphincterotomy is performed early. Repeat sphincterotomy is safer than the initial sphincterotomy with respect to pancreatic complications.