Introduction: Laparoscopic common bile duct exploration (CBDE) is becoming more popular in the management of choledocholithiasis due to improved laparoscopic expertise and advancement in endoscopic technology and equipment. This study aimed to evaluate the safety and short-term outcome of laparoscopic CBDE in a single institution over a 3-year period.Materials and Methods: A retrospective review of the records of all patients who underwent laparoscopic CBDE in Tan Tock Seng Hospital between January 2006 and September 2008 was conducted. Results: Fifty consecutive patients, with a median age of 60 years (range, 27 to 85) underwent laparoscopic CBDE for choledocholithiasis during the study period. About half of our patients presented as an emergency with acute cholangitis (32.0%) accounting for the majority. A total of 22 (44.0%) patients underwent laparoscopic CBDE as their primary procedure while the remaining 28 (56.0%) were subjected to preoperative ERCP initially. Of the latter group, documented stone clearance was only documented in 5 (17.9%) patients. Laparoscopic CBDE via the transcystic route was performed in 27 (54.0%) patients while another 18 patients (36.0%) had laparoscopic choledochotomy and 1 patient (2.0%) had laparoscopic choledocho-duodenostomy. There were 4 (8.0%) conversions in our series. The median operative time for laparoscopic CBDE via the transcystic route and the laparoscopic choledochotomy were 170 (75-465) and 250 (160-415) minutes, respectively. For the 18 patients who underwent a laparoscopic choledochotomy, T-tube was inserted in 8 (44.4%) patients while an internal biliary stent was placed in 4 (22.2%) with the remaining 6 patients (33.3%) undergoing primary closure of the choledochotomy. The median length of hospital stay was 2 days (range, 1 to 15) with no associated mortality. The main complications (n = 4, 8.0%) included retained CBD stones and biliary leakage. These were treated successfully with postoperative endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) with/without percutaneous drainage with no further surgery required. Conclusion: Laparoscopic CBDE is a safe operation with good outcome in managing choledocholithasis. Its dividends include the numerous benefits of minimally invasive surgery. If possible, transcystic extraction is preferred to choledochotomy, as this obviates the need for biliary diversion. ERCP will still hold an important role in certain instances in the management of choledocholithiasis.
Since its introduction a few decades ago, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) has brought about a significant change in the management of choledocholithiasis. With continual improvement in the technology and expertise in laparoscopic techniques, laparoscopic common bile duct exploration (CBDE) is becoming more popular and may be the next paradigm in the management of choledocholithiasis.
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