Endoscopic sphincterotomy has gained wide acceptance in the treatment of biliary lithiasis. We attempted endoscopic sphincterotomy in 443 patients and were successful in 407 (92%). Sphincterotomy was carried out with the gall bladder in situ in 234 cases (57%) of advanced age or high surgical risk. Immediate complications occurred in 7%, of which haemorrhage was the most frequent. The mortality rate was 1.5%. Three hundred and sixteen endoscopic sphincterotomies were performed more than six months before writing and follow up was available for 226 (72%) from six to 78 months. Late complications were observed in 16 patients with gall bladder 'in situ' (12%); the most frequent was cholecystitis in 6%. In five patients of the group without gall bladder, four had cholangitis related to retained or recurrent stones, and one restenosed . No episodes of cholangitis were observed in patients without stones despite reflux of barium up the biliary tree as observed during a barium meal examination.
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