Research Article

Grey-scale ultrasonography and percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography in biliary tract disease.

Br Med J 1980; 281 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.281.6254.1524 (Published 06 December 1980) Cite this as: Br Med J 1980;281:1524
  1. S R Wild,
  2. J G Cruikshank,
  3. G M Fraser,
  4. W A Copland,
  5. D C Grieve

    Abstract

    Fifty-one patients with suspected obstructive jaundice and 14 without jaundice in whom disease of the biliary tract was suspected but infusion cholangiography had been unhelpful were examined by grey-scale ultrasonography and percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography and the findings analysed retrospectively. Grey-scale ultrasonography distinguished between obstructive and hepatocellular jaundice in 35 out of 46 patients (76%) and indicated the site of the obstruction in 27 (58%) and the cause of the obstruction in 13 (28%). Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography distinguished between obstructive and hepatocellular jaundice in 42 of the patients (91%) and indicated the site of the obstruction in 42 (91%) and the cause in 29 (63%). In the 14 patients without jaundice percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography showed bile-duct stones in one an ampullary stenosis in three. It is concluded that grey-scale ultrasonography and percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography are complementary examinations and that ultrasonography should always be undertaken first as it is a non-invasive procedure that may provide the surgeon with all the diagnostic information he requires. Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography should be performed when grey-scale ultrasonography has shown dilated bile ducts but failed to provide adequate diagnostic information. Cholangiography is also required when preoperative percutaneous drainage of the bile duct is contemplated. In those patients in whom grey-scale ultrasonography shows non-dilated ducts endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is probably the contract examination of choice.