Endoscopic treatment of bile duct calculi in patients with gallbladder in situ: long-term outcome and factors

Scand J Gastroenterol. 1996 Mar;31(3):294-301. doi: 10.3109/00365529609004881.


Background: Whether endoscopic sphincterotomy (EST) in elderly and/or high-risk patients with common bile duct calculi (CBD) and the gallbladder in situ should be followed by routine cholecystectomy is still a subject of controversy.

Methods: To identify factors predictive of subsequent biliary tract symptoms after EST and bile duct clearance, we reviewed 265 patients with intact gallbladder and CBD calculi who were considered for EST in our department from 1981 to 1992. In 15 of 265 patients endoscopic treatment was not carried out, and the records of 4 patients were missing.

Results: Complete removal of all bile duct calculi failed in 27 patients (11%). Cholecystectomy was performed in 35 patients (16%) with cleared bile ducts 1-765 days (median, 60 days) after EST, in spite of absence of recurrent symptoms from the biliary tract. The remaining 184 patients have been retrospectively followed up for 14-150 months (median, 69 months). Cholecystectomy was required in 35 because of acute cholecystitis (n = 23) or biliary colic (n = 12). Of the cholecystectomies 86% were performed within 24 months after EST and only one after 4 years of follow-up. Increased frequency of cholecystectomy was found in patients with complete opacification of the gallbladder at endoscopic cholangiography (p = 0.005). This was especially evident in patients younger than 80 years (p = 0.002). Cholecystectomy was also required more often in patients with gallbladder calculi (p = 0.02). The risk of cholangitis in patients without recurrent stones was higher in those with juxtapapillary diverticula (p = 0.02). Fifty-nine patients without and 17 with mild to moderate symptoms from the biliary tract died after a median time of 39 and 46 months, respectively. Seventy-three patients are alive, and 59 are symptom-free. Ten patients have had and four still have complaints of mild to moderate biliary tract symptoms. They have been followed for up to 16-146 months (median, 40 months).

Conclusions: These findings confirm that endoscopic treatment alone in this group of patients is a feasible treatment principle. Recognition of the registered risk factors might be helpful when selecting patients for subsequent cholecystectomy.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopic Retrograde
  • Cholecystectomy
  • Cholecystitis / complications
  • Cholecystitis / surgery
  • Cholelithiasis / complications
  • Cholelithiasis / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / complications
  • Gallstones / complications
  • Gallstones / mortality
  • Gallstones / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sphincterotomy, Endoscopic*