Background: Peroral cholangioscopy (POCS) can be useful for difficult bile duct stone clearance. Large prospective multinational data on POCS-guided lithotripsy for clearing difficult bile duct stones in a single session of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) are missing.
Methods: Patients with difficult bile duct stones (defined as one or more of: largest stone diameter ≥ 15 mm, failed prior attempt at stone clearance, impacted, multiple, hepatic duct location, or located above a stricture) were enrolled at 17 centers in 10 countries. The principal endpoint was stone clearance in a single ERCP procedure using POCS. RESULTS : 156 patients underwent 174 sessions of POCS-guided electrohydraulic or laser lithotripsy. Stone clearance had failed in a previous ERCP using traditional techniques in 124/156 patients (80 %), while 32 /156 patients (21 %) were referred directly to POCS-guided therapy based on preprocedural assessment of the difficulty of stone clearance. In 101/156 patients (65 %), there were impacted stones. POCS-guided stone clearance was achieved in a single POCS procedure in 125 /156 patients (80 %, 95 % confidence interval [CI] 73 % - 86 %), and was significantly more likely for stones ≤ 30 mm compared with > 30 mm (odds ratio 7.9, 95 %CI 2.4 - 26.2; P = 0.002). Serious adverse events occurred in 3/156 patients (1.9 %, 95 %CI 0.4 % - 5.5 %), and included pancreatitis, perforation due to laser lithotripsy, and cholangitis (n = 1 each), all resolved within 1 week.
Conclusion: POCS-guided lithotripsy is highly effective for clearance of difficult bile duct stones in a single procedure and successfully salvages most prior treatment failures. It may also be considered first-line therapy for patients with difficult choledocholithiasis to avoid serial procedures.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02281019.
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