Preoperative endoscopic sphincterotomy as an adjunct to cholecystectomy for common bile duct stones



One hundred and twenty patients with known common bile duct stones were entered into a prospective randomised study of preoperative endoscopic sphincterotomy and stone clearance (group 1) versus surgery alone (group 2). Five patients were incorrectly entered; the 55 patients randomised to group 1 and the 60 randomised to group 2 were well matched with respect to clinical features and biochemical and medical risk factors. In group 1 endoscopic stone clearance was successful in 50 patients (91%); five of these patients refused elective surgery, though this was subsequently necessary in one. In group 2 common bile duct stones were cleared surgically in 54 of 59 patients (91.5%); one patient was treated by endoscopic sphincterotomy alone because of a myocardial infarct. The overall major complication rate in group 1 was 16.4% and included two deaths; in group 2 this was 8.5% and included one death. The minor complication rate in group 1 was 16.4% and that in group 2, 13.6%. These differences in outcome were not significant.

Despite a significant reduction in total hospital stay of patients in group 1, these results do not support the routine use of preoperative endoscopic sphincterotomy in patients having biliary surgery for stones in the common bile duct.