One hundred and fifteen patients were reviewed between 18 months and five years after successful endoscopic biliary sphincterotomy for choledocholithiasis, postcholecystectomy in 93 (81%). Thirteen (14%) postcholecystectomy patients and 11 (50%, p less than 0.001) with intact gall bladders are dead (cause of death was ascertained in each case). Of the others, 43 were interviewed and 48 completed a postal questionnaire. Stone free common ducts had been documented in 69 (76%), presumed in 16 (17%), and not achieved in six (7%, excluded from analysis). None of the responding patients had developed serious new problems. Current symptoms of those with and without gall bladders and those with 'documented' and 'presumed' duct clearance are similar. In no case has an episode of cholangitis since sphincterotomy been confirmed and only one patient has had documented recurrent duct stones. Continued incompetence of the sphincter was shown radiologically by the presence of bile duct gas in 14 (41%) of 32 patients. These results suggest that medium term complications of endoscopic sphincterotomy are unusual.
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