Wait-and-see strategy is justified after ERCP and endoscopic sphincterotomy in elderly patients with common biliary duct stones

Antti Kivivuori, Laura Mattila, Antti Siiki, Johanna Laukkarinen, Tuomo Rantanen, Mika Ukkonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


BACKGROUND Older patients with simultaneous main bile duct and gallbladder stones, especially those with high-surgical risks, create a common clinical dilemma. After successful endoscopic removal of main bile duct stones, should these patients undergo laparoscopic cholecystectomy to reduce risk of recurrent biliary events? In this population-based cohort study, we report long-term outcomes of a wait-and-see strategy after successful endoscopic extraction of main bile duct stones. METHODS Consecutive patients 75 years or older undergoing endoscopic stone extraction without subsequent cholecystectomy in two tertiary academic centers between January 2010 and December 2018 were included. Primary outcome measure was recurrence of biliary events. Secondary outcome measures were operation-related morbidity and mortality. RESULTS A total of 450 patients (median age, 85 years; 61% female) were included, with a median follow-up time of 36 months (0-120 months). Recurrent biliary events occurred in 51 patients (11%), with a median time from index hospital admission to recurrence of 307 days (12-1993 days). The most common biliary event was acute cholecystitis (7.1%). Twelve patients had cholangitis (2.7%) and two biliary pancreatitis (0.4%). Only one patient (0.4%) underwent surgery due to later gallstone-related symptoms. Eighteen patients (4.0%) required endoscopic intervention and 16 (3.5%) underwent surgery. There were no operation-associated deaths or morbidity among those undergoing later surgical or endoscopic interventions. CONCLUSION In elderly patients, it is relatively safe to leave gallbladder in situ after successful sphincterotomy and endoscopic common bile duct stone removal. In elderly and frail patients, a wait-and-see strategy without routine cholecystectomy rarely leads to clinically significant consequences. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Therapeutic/Care Management; Level III.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-447
Number of pages5
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • cholangiopancreatography
  • Cholecystectomy
  • choledocholithiasis
  • endoscopic retrograde
  • morbidity
  • mortality

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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