Common bile duct stones: management strategies in the laparoscopic era
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We reviewed our experience with the treatment of common bile duct (CBD) stones in 70 patients by sequential endoscopic-laparoscopic management and single-stage laparoscopic treatment during the past 7 years. The advantages, disadvantages, and feasibility of the two procedures are discussed to elucidate therapeutic strategies for patients harboring gallbladder stones and associated choledocholithiasis. In 44 patients, sequential endoscopic-laparoscopic management was indicatedd, and was successful in 37 of them but, in seven patients endoscopic stone extraction could not be accomplished. Single-stage laparoscopic treatment was attempted in 26 patients. In practice, laparoscopic transcystic common duct exploration or choledochotomy may not always be feasible if the cystic duct or CBD are not dilated; there is a high risk of intraoperative CBD injury in such circumstances. Laparoscopic management was considered to be especially useful for the treatment of numerous, large or difficult stones, because stone removal could be succesfully performed without any injury to the papilla of Vater. This last issue is of particular importance in patients with dilated CBD, because insufficient opening of the ampulla of Vater made by endoscopic sphincterotomy (EST) may lead to stasis and reflux-related complications such as cholangitis and recurrent stones. We conclude that the most rational management of CBD stones should be decided according to the size of the CBD, which depends on the size, number, and location of stones. Patients with dilated CBD are indicated to under-go laparoscopic single-stage treatment and combined endoscopic-laparoscopic treatment may be best for patients with non-dilated CBD.
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