Objective: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of a combined approach to the treatment of biliary pancreatitis using laparoscopic cholecystectomy and selective endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). Design: Consecutive case series. Setting: Tertiary care center. Patients: All patients undergoing primary operations for biliary pancreatitis during 2 time periods were included. In the open era (June 1982 through May 1988), there were 276 patients; in the laparoscopic era (January 1996 through June 1997), there were 114 patients. Interventions: Open cholecystectomy with or without common bile duct exploration (CBDE); laparoscopic cholecystectomy with selective ERCP and/or laparoscopic CBDE. Main Outcome Measures: Two periods were compared for morbidity, mortality, the duration of preoperative and postoperative stays, and the total length of hospitalization. Results: Both groups were demographically similar and had the same mortality (1.9%). Laparoscopic cholecystectomies provided a preoperative stay comparable to open cholecystectomy (6.4 vs 5.8 days), a shorter postoperative stay (1.5 vs 8.5 days), a lower incidence of CBDE (6.6% vs 26%), and a lower morbidity (8% vs 13.7%). The addition of an ERCP to laparoscopic cholecystectomy was associated with prolongation of the preoperative stay (7.4 vs 5.0 days), a comparable postoperative stay, a lower conversion rate (7.5% vs 13%), and fewer CBDEs (3% vs 13%). In 27 (42%) of the 64 ERCP cases, no stones were found. Conclusions: Treatment of biliary pancreatitis with combined laparoscopic cholecystectomy and selective ERCP is safe and effective and is associated with a shorter hospitalization and fewer CBDEs than open cholecystectomy. Unnecessary ERCPs can be reduced by improved selection criteria or greater dependence on operative CBDE.
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