BACKGROUND: Various minimally invasive approaches exist for the management of choledocholithiasis at the time of laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The aim of this study was to compare endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) with laparoscopic bile duct exploration (LBDE) and test the hypothesis that intraoperative ERCP is no different to LBDE in terms of rate of bile duct clearance or retained stones.
METHODS: Eligible patients with choledocholithiasis undergoing emergency laparoscopic cholecystectomy were randomized to intraoperative ERCP or LBDE in a 1 : 1 ratio. The primary outcomes were rates of bile duct clearance and retained stones. Secondary outcomes were postprocedure complication rate, mortality rate, postoperative length of hospital stay, conversion to open surgery rate, procedural time and total duration of surgery.
RESULTS: Some 104 patients were randomized, and 52 patients in each group were included in an intention-to-treat analysis. Duct clearance rates were 87 per cent for patients who had intraoperative ERCP and 69 per cent for those in the LBDE group (P = 0·057). The rate of retained stones was lower in the ERCP group than in the LBDE group: 15 versus 42 per cent respectively (P = 0·004). Median postoperative length of stay was shorter with ERCP (2 days versus 3 days for LBDE; P = 0·015).
CONCLUSION: Intraoperative ERCP is more effective than LBDE in terms of minimizing the rate of retained stones in patients with choledocholithiasis undergoing emergency laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
REGISTRATION NUMBER: ACTRN12613000761763 (http://www.anzctr.org.au/).