The combined endoscopic and laparoscopic approach is safe and effective in managing gallstone cholangitis in the era of laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC).Design
Retrospective case series.Setting
University teaching hospital.Patients
One hundred eighty-four consecutive patients with gallstone cholangitis treated between January 1995 and December 1998.Interventions
The main treatments were endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and endoscopic sphincterotomy (ES) followed by interval LC. Open or laparoscopic common bile duct exploration (OCBDE or LCBDE) was used when ERCP or ES failed.Main Outcome Measures
Success of various interventions, morbidity and mortality, and long-term incidence of recurrent biliary symptoms.Results
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography was successful in 175 patients (95%), with bile duct stones found in 147 (84%). Endoscopic stone clearance by ES was achieved in 132 patients (90%). Morbidity rate after ERCP or ES was 4.0% (n = 7), and overall mortality rate from cholangitis was 1.6% (n = 3). After bile duct stone clearance, 82 patients underwent LC with a conversion rate of 9.8% (n = 8) and a morbidity rate of 3.6% (n = 3). Eighteen patients underwent OCBDE with a morbidity rate of 33% (n = 6), and 3 underwent LCBDE with 1 conversion and no morbidity. There was no operative mortality. Seventy-eight patients were managed conservatively after endoscopic clearance of bile duct stones. Follow-up data were available in 101 patients with cholecystectomy and 73 patients with gallbladder in situ. During a median follow-up of 24 months, recurrent biliary symptoms occurred in 5.9% (n = 6) and 25% (n = 18), respectively (P = .001). In both groups, the most common recurrent symptom was cholangitis (n = 5 and n = 14, respectively). Gallbladder in situ (risk ratio, 4.16; 95% confidence interval, 1.39-12.50; P = .01) and small-size papillotomy (risk ratio, 2.94; 95% confidence interval, 1.07-8.10; P = .04) were significant risk factors for recurrent biliary symptoms.Conclusions
Endoscopic sphincterotomy for biliary drainage and stone removal, followed by interval LC, is a safe and effective approach for managing gallstone cholangitis. Patients with gallbladder left in situ after ES have an increased risk of recurrent biliary symptoms. Laparoscopic cholescystectomy should be recommended after endoscopic management of cholangitis except in patients with prohibitive surgical risk.