Common bile duct evaluation in the era of laparoscopic cholecystectomy. 1050 cases later.


OBJECTIVE: The authors documented the evolution of common bile duct (CBD) evaluation after the development of laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) and CBD exploration. Emphasis was placed on stratification of CBD stone risk so that subgroups could be selected appropriately for no further studies, preoperative endoscopic retrograde cholangiogram (ERC), or intraoperative intervention. METHODS: Data were accumulated by the authors on presentation, findings, and outcomes of 1050 patients who underwent cholecystectomies. Risk stratification was based on the history, ultrasound findings, biochemical derangements, and operative findings. RESULTS: Fifty-seven per cent of patients met criteria to be "no/low" risk for CBD stones (CBD diameter < 5 mm, normal liver enzymes, and no history of acute cholecystitis, jaundice, or pancreatitis); in these patients, cholangiograms were not obtained, and there was no clinical evidence of CBD stones observed in follow-up at 45 months (sensitivity = 100%). As techniques developed for laparoscopic CBD exploration, there was a decreased incidence of open cholecystectomy (p < 0.05) and preoperative ERC (p < 0.05). The rate of operative cholangiogram increased from 13% to 23% during the series (p < 0.01). There were no CBD injuries or late strictures. The only bile leak occurred from a peripheral segmental duct in the gallbladder bed and was resolved with a laparotomy and suture. There were no transfusions. Three retained stones were documented in patients who had false-normal operative cholangiograms. CONCLUSIONS: Criteria were defined that delineate a "no/low" risk group of LC patients for whom operative cholangiograms were not indicated for excluding CBD stones. The routine use of operative cholangiography as a means of preventing CBD injury was not substantiated by this study. The indications for preoperative ERC should continue to decrease as laparoscopic techniques evolve.

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