Surgical Endoscopy

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 467–472 | Cite as

A balanced approach to choledocholithiasis

  • M. C. Lilly
  • M. E. Arregui
Original Articles



We set out to review and evaluate the results of an algorithm for managing choledocholithiasis in patients undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy.


We performed retrospective review of patients with choledocholithiasis at the time of laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) between March 1993 and August 1999. All patients were operated on under the direction of one surgeon (M.E.A), following a consistent algorithm that relies primarily on laparoscopic transcystic common bile duct exploration (TCCBDE) but uses laparoscopic choledochotomy (LCD) when the duct and stones are large or if the ductal anatomy is suboptimal for TCCBDE. Intraoperative endoscopic retrograde sphincterotomy (ERS) is done if sphincterotomy is required to facilitate common bile duct exploration (CBDE). Postoperative endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is utilized when this fails. Preoperative ERCP is used only for high-risk patients.


A total of 728 LC were performed, and there were 60 instances (8.2%) of choledocholithiasis. Primary procedures consisted of 47 TCCBDE; 37 of them required no other treatment. In five cases, the stones were flushed with no exploration. Intraoperative ERS was performed three times as the only form of duct exploration. LCD was utilized twice; one case also required intraoperative ERS, and the other had a postoperative ERCP for stent removal. One patient with small stones was observed, with no sequelae. Preoperative ERCP was done twice as the primary procedure. Of the 10 cases that were not completely cleared by TCCBDE, three had a postoperative ERCP and seven had an intraoperative ERS, one of which required a postoperative ERCP. There were three complications (6%) related to CBDE, with no long-term sequelae. There were four postoperative complications (6.7%) and no deaths. The mean number of procedures per patient was 1.12. The average postoperative hospital stay was 1.8 days (range, 0–14).


Choledocholithiasis can be managed safely by laparoscopic techniques, augmenting with ERCP as necessary. This protocol minimizes the number of procedures and decreases the hospital stay.

Key words

Choledocholithiasis Laparoscopic common bile duct exploration Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) Gallbladder Common bile duct stones 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. C. Lilly
    • 1
  • M. E. Arregui
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of General SurgerySt. Vincent Hospital and Health Care CenterIndianapolisUSA

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