, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 163-168
Date: 27 Apr 2008

How do we ensure that trainees learn to perform biliary sphincterotomy safely, appropriately, and effectively?

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Sphincterotomy is a high-risk procedure with considerable complications. Trainees should learn and understand the basics of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography and sphincterotomy to ensure good clinical outcomes. Teaching of sphincterotomy usually involves supervised hands-on clinical practice with patients. Proper positioning of the endoscope allows for correct orientation with the papilla, and performing the cut along the “ideal” biliary axis optimizes results and reduces complications. Learning and practicing sphincterotomy can be supplemented by simulator models. The Neo-Papilla model uses a modified chicken heart attached to the porcine ex vivo model and allows for cutting of actual tissue. The mechanical simulator allows trainees to practice cutting an artificial papilla marked with the “perfect” axis to understand the proper sphincterotomy technique. Understanding the indications and contraindications helps with appropriate application of sphincterotomy. Objective criteria should be available for assessing performance. Improved technique and avoiding a deviated cut may improve overall results and prevent complications.