Surgeons today have a wide range of therapeutic options for the management of patients with choledocholithiasis. Endoscopists, interventional radiologists, and surgeons employ a variety of techniques to access and remove common bile duct stones (CBDS) successfully. Although earlier studies have been done to assess the relative merits of laparoscopic and endoscopic management of CBDS, few of them have employed a randomized prospective trial for the comparison. Without recognized parameters for comparison, no definitive conclusions can be drawn. Herein, we examine the role of therapeutic endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) as an important adjunct to laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) in the management of CBDS. The three main scenarios in which this modality is employed for CBDS removal are selective preoperative ERCP, intraoperative ERCP, and postoperative ERCP. We conclude that an appropriate balance must be struck to maintain a high yield of positive or therapeutic ERCP, avoid unnecessary ERCP, and not miss CBDS, while ensuring acceptably low rates of morbidity and mortality and controlling costs. As we await the publication of prospective data, we may look for direction from decision analysis in order to develop optimal management strategies and define the 'best practice' results that should be expected of operators before new procedures and innovative technology are accepted on a widespread basis.
- Common bile duct stones
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography
- Laparoscopic common bile duct exploration
ASJC Scopus subject areas