Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure with a risk of serious and life-threatening complications. The most common complications are pancreatitis, haemorrhage, perforation and cholangitis. The aim of this study was to determine indications, success rates and complications in a low-volume ERCP unit in Kanta-Häme Central Hospital (KHCH).
Data on 1207 consecutive ERCPs performed in KHCH between 2002 and 2009 was collected retrospectively from patient histories. Complications were classified according to need for intervention and length of hospitalisation.
Cannulation of the desired duct was successful in 89.2% of 825 ERCPs with no earlier sphincterotomy. Complete stone removal was achieved in 91.3% of procedures. Standard biliary sphincterotomy was performed in 73.8% and precut sphincterotomy in 12.0 % of cases. Cholangitis developed in 2.1%, bleeding in 1.9%, pancreatitis in 1.9%, perforation in 1.0% and cardio-pulmonary or miscellaneous complications in 4.2% of cases. The majority of complications could be managed conservatively. In procedures with no earlier sphincterotomy ERCP-related 30-day mortality was 0.2% (n=2) and overall 30-day mortality was 3.3% (n=27).
ERCP indications and success rates, as well as morbidity and mortality were comparable to those re-ported earlier. Although the success rate of cannulation and thereby ERCP procedures seem to be somewhat lower than in tertiary referral centres, ERCP procedures can be safely performed in a low-volume ERCP unit by concentrating procedures on a few experienced endoscopists. The success rates may be further improved with the latest cannulation techniques, used selectively in the last years of the study period.