Background and study aims: Endoscopic sphincterotomy is a widely accepted technique for the treatment of patients with common bile duct stones. However, it is still associated with occasional complications. The recently developed technique of endoscopic papillary balloon dilation seems to be a safe and effective procedure, and to have great potential for replacing endoscopic sphincterotomy. However, few reports have been published on the use of this technique for bile duct stones. The present study was undertaken to evaluate its safety and efficacy.
Patients and methods: Endoscopic papillary balloon dilation was used to remove common bile duct stones in 226 consecutive patients including 41 patients of ASA classification III/IV, 41 elderly patients (> 80 years) 24 with liver cirrhosis, and 86 with periampullary diverticulum. After dilation of the papilla with a balloon diameter of 8 mm, the stones were retrieved.
Results: In conjunction with the use of a mechanical or/and electrohydraulic lithotriptor in 79 patients (35%) with large stones (> 10 mm in diameter), clearance of the common bile duct was achieved in 225 of 226 patients (99%) without serious complications, such as hemorrhage or severe pancreatitis; mild (n = 13) or moderate (n = 2) pancreatitis occurred in 7% of cases.
Conclusions: Endoscopic papillary balloon dilation is a safe and effective technique for the treatment of common bile duct stones, even in high-risk patients.