The nature, frequency, severity, and possible causes of complications after 207 sphincter of Oddi manometry measurements were studied in 146 patients. Acute pancreatitis was diagnosed in 6% (12 of 207) of the investigations and in 8% (12 of 146) of the patients examined. The pancreatitis was mild in all patients. After cannulation of the pancreatic duct, acute pancreatitis occurred in 10 of 95 (11%) patients compared with one of 93 (1%) when the manometry catheter entered the bile duct only (p less than 0.02). Seven (58%) of the patients who developed acute pancreatitis, however, were found to be suffering from chronic pancreatitis. Some 26% of all sphincter of Oddi manometry measurements on patients with this diagnosis were complicated by an acute attack of pancreatitis compared with 3% (p less than 0.001) in patients without signs of chronic pancreatitis. In all patients the pancreatitis developed within three hours of manometry. We conclude that pancreatitis may occasionally follow sphincter of Oddi manometry measurement, even in patients without pancreaticobiliary disease, and that underlying chronic pancreatitis constitutes a definite risk. Sphincter of Oddi manometry measurement in control subjects should therefore be performed only in centres where the safety of the procedure has been established, and the presence of chronic pancreatitis should be excluded beforehand. Cannulation of the pancreatic duct should be avoided. Manometry can be safely performed, however, as an outpatient procedure.
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