One hundred and twenty seven patients were treated by nasobiliary drainage, or stenting, to prevent biliary obstruction after endoscopic failure to clear stones from the common bile duct. At presentation, 91 (72%) patients were jaundiced and 39 (31%) had cholangitis. Placement of either a nasobiliary drain or stent was successful in 124 (98%) patients. One hundred and twenty one (95%) patients were followed up. Clearance was ultimately achieved endoscopically in 52 and surgically in 25 patients after (mean) 2.4 months. Thirty day mortality was 3%. There were no complications of nasobiliary drainage, but two of 39 patients treated by temporary stents developed cholangitis, both successfully managed by endoscopic duct clearance. Forty two patients unfit for surgery or further endoscopic attempts at duct clearance were followed with stents in situ for a mean 15.9 months (range 2.5-37.5). Cholangitis developed in four patients and was successfully managed by stent change. These results indicate that longterm stenting can be useful for poor risk surgical patients and that nasobiliary drainage or temporary stenting permits further elective rather than urgent endoscopic or surgical treatment.
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