Role of endoscopic evaluation in idiopathic pancreatitis: a systematic review

Gastrointest Endosc. 2006 Jun;63(7):1037-45. doi: 10.1016/j.gie.2006.02.024.


In approximately 20% of patients with acute pancreatitis, a cause is not established by history, physical examination, routine laboratory testing, and abdominal imaging. For those with a single unexplained attack, the role of invasive evaluation with endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is unsettled but has been generally limited to those patients with suspected bile duct stones or malignancy. Recent studies suggest that microlithiasis is causative in up to 75% of patients with an unexplained attack and gallbladder in situ, whereas sphincter of Oddi dysfunction is most prevalent in those with recurrent attacks who have previously undergone cholecystectomy. EUS has been shown to be highly accurate for the identification of gallbladder sludge, common bile duct stones, and pancreatic diseases. Given this apparent diagnostic utility, an EUS-based strategy may be a reasonable approach to evaluate patients with a single idiopathic attack. ERCP and sphincter of Oddi manometry should generally be reserved for patients with multiple unexplained attacks and negative EUS results, especially for those patients who have previously undergone cholecystectomy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bile
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopic Retrograde
  • Cholelithiasis / complications
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal* / methods
  • Endosonography*
  • Humans
  • Pancreatitis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pancreatitis / etiology
  • Pancreatitis / physiopathology
  • Sphincter of Oddi / physiopathology