Background and study aims: Analyses of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) complication are often constrained by the number of endpoints observed. This large-scale study aimed to identify the principal risk factors for ERCP complication.
Patients and methods: This was a prospective multicenter study of ERCP complications, based in five English regions. An exploratory univariable analysis of patients' first recorded procedures identified potentially important patient- and procedure-related factors. For overall complications and pancreatitis, variables significant in univariable analysis were included in multiple regression.
Results: A total of 66 centers collected data on 5264 ERCPs, performed on 4561 patients. A therapeutic intervention was attempted in 3447/4561 (76%) of patients as part of their first recorded ERCP. Following first recorded ERCP, 230 patients (5.0%) suffered > or = 1 complication: pancreatitis in 74 (1.6%), cholangitis in 48 (1.0 %), hemorrhage in 40 (0.9%), perforation in 20 (0.4%), and miscellaneous in 54 (1.2%). Significant factors from multiple regression were included in a multi-level analysis, which incorporated variables measured at the level of the endoscopist and hospital. For overall complication, risk factors ( P value, odds ratio [OR], 95% confidence interval [CI]) were: cannulation attempts > 1 ( P = 0.094, OR 1.32, 95% CI 0.95-1.83), precut ( P = 0.033, OR 1.55, 95 % CI 1.04-2.32), and suspected sphincter of Oddi dysfunction ( P = 0.121, OR 1.97, 95 % CI 0.84-4.64). For pancreatitis, risk factors ( Pvalue, OR, and 95 % CI) were: cannulation attempts > 1 ( P = 0.0001, OR 3.14, 95% CI 1.74-5.67), female sex ( P < 0.001, OR 2.22, 95% CI 1.43-3.45), age ( P < 0.002, OR 1.09 per 5 year decrease, 95% CI 1.03-1.15), and performance in a district (as opposed to university) hospital ( P = 0.034, OR 2.41, 95% CI 1.08-5.41).
Conclusion: Careful patient selection combined with skilled cannulation minimizes complications. Higher-risk procedures should be performed in specialist centers.