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Technical outcomes and complications of pediatric ERCP



Previous reports have suggested that endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) in pediatric patients is safe, but because the total number of cases reported in the literature remains small, questions remain regarding safety and outcomes of this procedure in children.


Pediatric patients who underwent ERCP were identified from diagnostic to billing codes. Medical records were examined for age, gender, diagnosis codes, indication, type of sedation, findings, interventions, and complications. Descriptive statistics were prepared for data including frequencies, percentages for categorical variables, and means and standard deviations for quantitative variables. Extensions of logistic regression were used to examine the relationship between demographic and clinical characteristics and post-ERCP pancreatitis.


Four hundred and twenty-five ERCPs were performed on 276 pediatric patients. Patient’s age ranged from 72 days to 18 years, and there was equal gender distribution. Targeted duct cannulation was achieved in over 95 % of cases, and therapeutic interventions were common (81.3 %). The most common indications were biliary obstruction (43.3 %) and chronic pancreatitis (26.8 %). The most common complication was post-ERCP pancreatitis which occurred in 26 cases (7.7 %), and the majority was mild by consensus definition. Procedural characteristics significantly associated with post-ERCP pancreatitis included: pancreatogram, pancreatic sphincterotomy, pancreatic duct stenting, and pancreatic duct stricture dilation. Immediate post-sphincterotomy bleeding occurred twice (1.1 %), and both cases were successfully treated during the procedure. There was one instance of a possible delayed sphincterotomy bleed. No mortality was observed.


This retrospective review is one of the larger ERCP series reported in the pediatric population and adds to the growing body of literature supporting that ERCP can be safely applied in younger patients by skilled endoscopists. The complication rate found in this series closely parallels that observed in adults. Prospective studies of pediatric ERCP are still required to more definitively define the safe and appropriate use of this procedure in children.

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Michele Shaffer Ph.D., Co-Director, Seattle Children’s Core for Biomedical Statistics and Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology at Seattle Children’s assisted with the statistical analysis.


Dr. Matthew Giefer has no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose; Dr. Richard Kozarek has royalties from Elsevier, Blackwell, and Springer, and will be receiving research support from Boston Scientific.

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Correspondence to Matthew J. Giefer.

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Giefer, M.J., Kozarek, R.A. Technical outcomes and complications of pediatric ERCP. Surg Endosc 29, 3543–3550 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00464-015-4105-1

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  • ERCP
  • Children
  • Outcomes
  • Complications
  • Bile duct stones
  • Pancreatitis