Laparoscopic surgery and the common bile duct

Robert J. Fitzgibbons, Glenn C. Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Many biliary tract surgeons have now reached a level of sophistication with laparoscopic cholecystectomy that they are now able to deal with the common bile duct at the same time. Preoperative endoscopic cholangiography can be reserved for cases where choledocholithiasis has a high degree of probability. This has served to decrease the number of negative studies. The surgeon has five choices regarding stones confirmed by operative cholangiography during laparoscopic cholecystectomy: (1) do nothing, hoping the stones will pass spontaneously or that a postoperative sphincterotomy with stone extraction will be successful; (2) perform a transcystic laparoscopic common bile duct exploration (best for stones less than 1 cm and distal to the cystic duct); (3) perform a laparoscopic common bile duct exploration by choledochotomy (best for large stones in patients with common bile ducts greater than 1 cm. It is also the preferred approach with stones proximal to the insertion of the cystic duct.); (4) perform an intraoperative sphincterotomy with stone extraction, either retrograde or antegrade (this approach has some proponents but has not gained popularity among the majority of surgeons); and (5) place a double lumen catheter through the cystic duct with a proximal lumen in the common bile duct and the distal lumen in the duodenum. This can be used for serial postoperative cholangiography to confirm spontaneous stone passage or falsely positive operative cholangiograms. It is useful in situations when laparoscopic common bile duct exploration equipment or surgeon expertise is not available. If stones persist, a guidewire can be introduced through the distal lumen of the catheter for a guidewire-assisted sphincterotomy. Other CBD interventions that have been reported include laparoscopic biliary bypass and resection of choledochal cysts. Malignant lesions should not be approached by a laparoscopic method except in unusual circumstances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1317-1324
Number of pages8
JournalWorld Journal of Surgery
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 22 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery


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