Objective: To evaluate if using a soft-tipped guidewire to cannulate the common bile duct may ameliorate development of post-ERCP pancreatitis and facilitate cannulation of the CBD.
Design and setting: A single-center, blinded, randomized trial of conventional cannulation technique using sphinctertome and contrast injection versus guidewire cannulation technique.
Methods: We prospectively randomized 300 patients to conventional cannulation (group I) or guidewire cannulation (group II) technique.
Outcome measures: Primary outcome measure was incidence of acute pancreatitis and secondary outcome measures were ease of cannulation of common bile duct (assessed by attempts required for common bile duct cannulation & rates of precut sphincterotomy) and overall complication rates.
Results: Guidewire cannulation was associated with significantly lower likelihood of post-ERCP pancreatitis (adjusted OR 0.43, 95% CI 0.21-0.89, P= 0.02). Twenty-five patients (16.6%) in group I and thirteen patients (8.6%) in group II developed acute pancreatitis, P= 0.037. All instances of pancreatitis were mild. There were more women in group II; 41 in group I and 59 in group II, P= 0.028. Otherwise the two groups were comparable for age, age under 35 yr, indication for ERCP, diagnosis, and number of patients with SOD. The number of patients requiring 0-3, 4-6, and 7-10 attempts for successful cannulation of the common bile duct were 87, 48, and 15 in group I and 117, 24, and 9 in group II, respectively, P= 0.001. A total of 33 patients in group I and 13 patients in group II required precut sphincterotomy, P= 0.007. Rates of accidental pancreatic duct cannulation were 21 in group I and 27 in group II, P= 0.34. Rates of overall complication were not significantly different in the two groups.
Conclusions: Guidewire technique for bile duct cannulation lowers likelihood of post-ERCP pancreatitis by facilitating cannulation and reducing need for precut sphincterotomy.