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Stones in the common bile duct: experience with medical dissolution therapy.
  1. K. W. Somerville,
  2. W. R. Ellis,
  3. B. H. Whitten,
  4. T. W. Balfour,
  5. G. D. Bell


    Thirty-one patients with radiolucent common bile duct stones received medical treatment. Nineteen had Rowachol, a terpene preparation, eight (42%) achieving complete stone disappearance within 3 to 48 months. Fifteen (including 3 of the above) took Rowachol with bile acid (chenodeoxycholic in 11, ursodeoxycholic in 4) for 3 to 60 months: 11 (73%) achieved complete dissolution within 18 months. Persistent symptoms and complications settled on conservative management: 8 (25%) patients required admission (2 biliary colic, 1 obstructive jaundice, 4 cholangitis, 1 pancreatitis). One patient died of a myocardial infarction during recovery from pancreatitis; the other continued treatment, 2 achieving complete dissolution/disappearance. Oral dissolution therapy with Rowachol and bile acids should be considered when endoscopic sphincterotomy or surgery is not feasible, but careful attention to potential complications is required while stones persist.

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