Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy for common bile duct stones

Br J Surg. 1997 Jan;84(1):29-32.


Background: Successful extraction of common bile duct stones after endoscopic sphincterotomy may be achieved in 86-96 per cent of cases. However, some stones are too large to be removed in this manner. This study looks at the role of extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy to break up common bile duct stones as an adjunct to sphincterotomy in patients with stones greater than 10 mm in size.

Methods: Twenty-seven patients with large (10-35 mm) common bile duct stones were treated with piezoelectric generated extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy (ESWL) following failed stone extraction after endoscopic sphincterotomy (ES). The stones were visualized ultrasonographically and a piezolith 2300 Wolf lithotripter used to administer the shockwaves.

Results: Visualized stone fragmentation was reported in 20 of 48 sessions. Clearance of targeted stones was achieved in 18 of the 27 patients, but actual duct clearance was demonstrated in only 17 of the 27. There were few adverse effects and mortality was nil.

Conclusion: This study concludes that ESWL following failed ES is a useful additional treatment option for very large bile duct stones, but should only be used after surgical risk and past history of biliary disease have been carefully reviewed and found to contraindicate conventional surgical management. An algorithm of treatment options for common bile duct stones is presented.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Gallstones / therapy*
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Lithotripsy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sphincterotomy, Endoscopic
  • Treatment Failure