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What Is the Risk of Diagnostic Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography before Cholecystectomy?

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Many surgeons prefer to perform endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) before cholecystectomy, specifically in patients at significant risk of having biliary pathology. However, a preoperative diagnostic ERCP, without the use of an endoscopic ultrasound or magnetic retrograde cholangiopancreatoscopy, remains controversial. This is the result of the risk of either performing an unnecessary procedure and/or the development of post-ERCP pancreatitis (PEP). We performed a retrospective review of all surgeon-performed ERCPs at our institution between July 2011 and May 2013. This was done to examine patients who had pericholecystectomy ERCP. We had 550 ERCPs performed at our institution during this time period, 169 of which were pericholecystectomy procedures. We divided the 169 patients who had a diagnostic procedure (Diagnostic group) from those who had known biliary pathology before intervention (Therapeutic group). As a result, 34 patients (20.1%) were placed in the Diagnostic group and 135 patients (79.9%) in the Therapeutic group. Of the 34 Diagnostic patients, four (11.8%) developed PEP. Fifteen (44.1%) had unnecessary procedures, two of which had PEP (2.9%). Of the 135 ERCPs in the Therapeutic group, 18 patients (13.4%) developed PEP. Five of the 11 who had unnecessary procedures developed PEP. Based on the low incidence of complications, diagnostic ERCP has an acceptable rate of pancreatitis and/or unnecessary procedures when performed in highly selected patients and before cholecystectomy when compared with patients undergoing therapeutic ERCP. However, more aggressive use of diagnostic imaging before ERCP should be adopted given the number of unnecessary procedures performed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Greenville Health System, Greenville, South Carolina, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2014

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