Research Article

Non-operative removal of bile duct stones by duodenoscopic sphincterotomy in the elderly.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 283 doi: (Published 22 August 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;283:521
  1. A S Mee,
  2. A G Vallon,
  3. J R Croker,
  4. P B Cotton


    Between January 1975 and December 1979, 71 patients over the age of 70 underwent attempted duodenoscopic sphincterotomy for stones in the common bile duct. Fifteen patients still had gall bladders in situ. Sphincterotomy was possible in 69 of the patients and in 65 of these duct clearance was achieved, giving an overall success rate of 92%. Failure to achieve sphincterotomy in two cases was due to substantial peripapillary diverticula. Duct clearance failed in four patients, mostly due to the size of the retained stones. The largest stone extracted was 24 mm diameter. There were no deaths but complications occurred in nine patients (13%); these were haemorrhage in four (requiring surgery in one), cholangitis in four (two of whom required surgical extraction of stones), and pancreatitis in one. The average duration of hospital stay in successful cases was 11 days (range three to 30). Clinical follow-up of 55 patients one to five years after sphincterotomy showed no evidence of stones or of stenosis of the sphincter. Duodenoscopic sphincterotomy is a major advance in the management of elderly patients with stones in the common bile duct.