Background: With an increased use of magnetic resonance imaging, the indications for endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) have changed. Consequently, the patterns and factors predictive of complications after ERCP performed during current routine clinical practice are not well known.
Methods: A prospective multicentre cohort study was undertaken in 11 Norwegian hospitals. Complications and mortality within 30 days after ERCP were analysed by univariable and multivariable regression analysis.
Results: There were 2808 ERCP procedures, of which 2573 (91·6 per cent) were therapeutic. More than half of the patients were aged 70 years or more. Common bile duct cannulation was achieved in 2557 procedures (91·1 per cent). Complications occurred in 327 (11·6 per cent) of the procedures, including cholangitis in 100 (3·6 per cent), pancreatitis in 88 (3·1 per cent), bleeding in 66 (2·4 per cent), perforation in 25 (0·9 per cent) and cardiovascular-respiratory events in 32 (1·1 per cent). In the multivariable regression analysis, older age, increasing American Society of Anesthesiologists fitness score, centre ERCP volumes of more than 150 procedures annually and precut sphincterotomy were predictive factors for severe complications. The overall 30-day mortality rate was 2·2 per cent (63 patients), with a procedure-related mortality rate of 1·4 per cent (39 patients). Malignancy was diagnosed in 46 (73 per cent) of the patients who died.
Conclusion: ERCP is a procedure with considerable risk for complications. Morbidity and mortality are related to patient age and co-morbidity, as well as hospital volume of ERCP procedures and the type of intervention.
Copyright © 2012 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.