The bile ducts were visualised using endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), percutaneous or intravenous cholangiography in 38 patients with non-gallstone chronic pancreatitis. Stenosis of the intrapancreatic portion of the distal common bile duct was demonstrated in 11 patients. Ten of the 11 developed transient cholestasis during exacerbations of their chronic pancreatitis. In six cholestasis eventually persisted requiring surgical relief. Secondary biliary cirrhosis was present in one patient. No evidence of pancreatic carcinoma was found in the patients explored surgically. Ten of the patients are alive more than one year after diagnosis.Chronic pancreatitis was of alcoholic aetiology in 10 of the patients with biliary stenosis. Cholestasis and biliary stricture are common but poorly recognised complications of non-gallstone chronic pancreatitis, especially when pancreatitis is severe and due to alcohol.
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