Safety of ERCP during pregnancy

Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Feb;98(2):308-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2003.07261.x.


Objectives: There are few data in the literature regarding the indications, therapy, and safety of endoscopic management of pancreatico-biliary disorders during pregnancy. We report the largest single center experience with ERCP in pregnancy.

Methods: We reviewed 15 patients that underwent ERCP during pregnancy. In all patients, the pelvis was lead-shielded and the fetus was monitored by an obstetrician. Fluoroscopy was minimized and hard copy radiographs taken only when essential.

Results: The mean patient age was 28.9 yr (15-36 yr). The mean duration of gestation was 25 wk (12-33 wk); one patient was in the first, five in the second, and nine in the third trimester. The indications were gallstone pancreatitis (n = 6), choledocholithiasis on ultrasound (n = 5), elevated liver enzymes and a dilated bile duct on ultrasound (n = 2), abdominal pain and gallstones (n = 1), and chronic pancreatitis (n = 1). ERCP findings were bile duct stones (n = 6), patulous papilla (n = 1), bile duct debris (n = 1), normal bile duct and gallstones or gallbladder sludge (n = 3), dilated bile duct and gallstones (n = 1), normal bile duct and no gallstones (n = 2), and chronic pancreatitis (n = 1). Six patients underwent sphincterotomies and one a biliary stent insertion. One sphincterotomy was complicated by mild pancreatitis. All infants delivered to date have had Apgar-scores >8, and continuing pregnancies are uneventful. Mean fluorosocopy time was 3.2 min (SD +/- 1.8). An estimated fetal radiation exposure was 310 mrad (SD +/- 164) which is substantially below the accepted teratogenic dose.

Conclusions: ERCP in pregnancy seems to be safe for both mother and fetus; however, it should be restricted to therapeutic indications with additional intraprocedure safety measures.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biliary Tract Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopic Retrograde*
  • Female
  • Fetus / radiation effects
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Pancreatic Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnostic imaging*
  • Safety
  • Time Factors