The favoured treatment of common bile duct stones is endoscopic sphincterotomy and stone extraction. The management of those cases where duct clearance is not possible is controversial. At our institution it has been policy to insert an endoluminal stent. We report a retrospective review of the outcome of patients stented for common bile duct stones. The study population was 14 men and 22 women, with a median age of 73 years (range 23-89 years). Treatment-related morbidity was seen in nine patients (25%), comprising cholangitis (5), pancreatitis (3), and cholecystitis (1). Three of these patients died; all were over the age of 75 years and had been stented on a long-term basis. These data suggest that endobiliary stents can be employed with an acceptable complication rate. We suggest that patients under the age of 75 years be stented only as a temporising measure, but that patients over 75 years or those unfit on physiological grounds can be stented on a long-term basis as definitive treatment.
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