Do all patients with abnormal intraoperative cholangiogram merit endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography?

Surg Endosc. 2006 May;20(5):801-5. doi: 10.1007/s00464-005-0479-9. Epub 2006 Mar 16.


Background: Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is commonly used for postoperative evaluation of an abnormal intraoperative cholangiogram (IOC). Although a normal IOC is very suggestive of a disease-free common bile duct (CBD), abnormal studies are associated with high false-positive rates. This study aimed to identify a subset of patients with abnormal IOC who would benefit from a postoperative ERCP.

Methods: This prospective study investigated 51 patients with abnormal IOC at laparoscopic cholecystectomy who underwent postoperative ERCP at two tertiary referral centers over a 3-year period. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to determine predictors of CBD stones at postoperative ERCP.

Results: For all 51 patients, ERCP was successful. The ERCP showed CBD stones in 33 cases (64.7%), and normal results in 18 cases (35.2%). On univariate analysis, abnormal liver function tests (p < 0.0001) as well as IOC findings of a large CBD stone (p = 0.03), multiple stones (p = 0.01), and a dilated CBD (p = 0.07) predicted the presence of retained stones at postoperative ERCP. However, on multivariable analysis, only abnormal liver function tests correlated with the presence of CBD stones (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: One-third of patients with an abnormal IOC have a normal postoperative ERCP. Elevated liver function tests can help to identify patients who merit further evaluation by ERCP. The use of less invasive methods such as endoscopic ultrasound or magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography should be considered for patients with normal liver function tests to minimize unnecessary ERCPs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cholangiography*
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopic Retrograde*
  • Cholecystectomy, Laparoscopic*
  • Cholelithiasis / diagnosis*
  • Common Bile Duct Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Surgical*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Period
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Care*
  • Prospective Studies