T. G. Wilson, P. L. Jeans, A. Anthony, M. R. Cox, J. Toouli

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35 Citations (Scopus)


The advent of laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) has led to a reassessment of the approach to the management of choledocholithiasis. In a consecutive series of 418 patients undergoing LC, common bile duct (CBD) stones were suspected pre‐operatively in 130 patients. Forty‐five of the patients (35%) were found to have CBD stones on either pre‐operative endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP; 20) or on operative cholangiography (OC; 25). Common bile duct stones were detected on OC in a further 12 of 288 patients (4.2%) without pre‐operative suspicion of choledocholithiasis. Of the total of 57 patients with CBD stones, the duct was cleared by pre‐operative ERCP and endoscopic sphincter‐otomy (ES) in 15 patients. In 13 patients, two of whom had had a pre‐operative ERCP and ES, duct clearance was achieved by relaxing the sphincter pharmacologically and flushing the CBD via the OC catheter. One patient had an on‐table ERCP and ES with successful stone extraction during LC. Eleven patients were converted to open operation with bile duct exploration. Sixteen patients had a postoperative ERCP. In five patients the CBD stones had passed spontaneously in the time between LC and ERCP. Ten patients required ES to clear the duct of stones. One patient had a failed ERCP and is still awaiting a repeat. The remaining patient was scheduled, but did not return for follow‐up ERCP. In summary, pre‐operative ERCP was indicated in less than 10% of patients in this series. It was possible to deal with over one‐third of CBD stones found at LC by the simple technique of pharmacological relaxation of the spincter of Oddi and flushing the duct through the cholangiogram catheter. Of the patients who required follow‐up ERCP, one third had passed their CBD stones by the time of the examination and the rest required ES for stone extraction. Less than 3% of the entire series of patients were converted to open operation for exploration of the common bile duct.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-450
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • choledocholithiasis
  • endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography
  • endoscopic sphinc‐terotomy
  • laparoscopic cholecysteetomy.


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