Background: Endoscopic biliary sphincterotomy (ES) can cause bleeding, pancreatitis, and perforation. This has, in part, been attributed to the type of electrosurgical current used for ES. No consensus exists on the optimal type of electrosurgical current for ES to maximize safety.
Objective: To compare the rates of complications in patients undergoing ES via pure current versus mixed current.
Design: A systematic review of published, prospective, randomized trials that compared pure current with mixed current for ES.
Patients: Patients undergoing ES, with random assignment to either current group.
Interventions: Data were standardized for pancreatitis and postsphincterotomy bleeding. There were insufficient data to analyze perforation risk. A random-effects model was used.
Main outcome measurements: Bleeding, pancreatitis, and perforation.
Results: A total of 804 patients from 4 trials that compared pure current to mixed current were analyzed. The aggregated rate of pancreatitis was 3.8%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.0%-6.6%, for the pure-current group versus 7.9%, 95% CI 3.1%-12.7%, for the mixed-current group; the difference was not statistically significant. The rate of bleeding (all severity groups) for the pure-current group was 37.3% (95% CI 27.3%, 47.3%), which was significantly higher than that of the mixed-current group (12.2% [95% CI 4.1%, 20.3%]). Mild bleeding was significantly more frequent with pure current (28.9% [95% CI 16.3, 41.4]) compared with mixed current (9.4% [95% CI 2.1%, 16.8%]).
Limitations: Variables, including endoscopist skill and cannulation difficulty, were difficult to measure.
Conclusions: The rate of pancreatitis in patients who underwent ES when using pure current was not significantly different from those when using mixed current. Pure current was associated with more episodes of bleeding, primarily mild bleeding. Data were insufficient to analyze the perforation risk.