Background: Management of cholelithiasis and choledocholithiasis usually requires two separate teams - the gastroenterologist/surgical endoscopist and the laparoscopic surgical team. This requires two separate procedures that potentially increase the overall morbidity and cost. Laparoscopic common bile duct exploration by choledochotomy (LCBDE-C) averts this problem with a single approach. Methods: In 1990-1991, unsuspected stones found at laparoscopy with intraoperative cholangiogram done routinely underwent postoperative ERCP. Residual stones had been found after ERCP in 16 of 22 preoperative ERCP patients and we began to seek an alternative technique. Laparoscopic common bile duct exploration by choledochotomy has achieved a high rate of success. Results: Technically successful LCBDE-C has been accomplished in 143 of 148 patients (96.6%). Retained bile duct stones have been found on postoperative cholangiogram in three patients (2.0%), all of which have been successfully removed by postoperative ERCP. Thus 140 or 148 patients had their bile duct successfully cleaned by the one-step technique alone (94.6%). Conclusions: We believe that most laparoscopic surgeons who have acquired the skills of intracorporeal suturing can be successful at laparoscopic common bile duct exploration by choledochotomy. The disadvantage of T-tube presence will likely be eliminated by future developments with intraoperative antegrade sphincterotomy-like procedures, but the ability to see both proximal and distal biliary tree with the choledochotomy in all cases seems to offer more than adequate results at this point in the evolution of the laparoscopic approach to calculus biliary tract disease.
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