Published online Oct 21, 2011. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v17.i39.4365
Revised: April 11, 2011
Accepted: April 18, 2011
Published online: October 21, 2011
Extraction of large pancreatic and common bile duct (CBD) calculi has always challenged the therapeutic endoscopist. Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL) is an excellent tool for patients with large pancreatic and CBD calculi that are not amenable to routine endotherapy. Pancreatic calculi in the head and body are targeted by ESWL, with an aim to fragment them to < 3 mm diameter so that they can be extracted by subsequent endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). In our experience, complete clearance of the pancreatic duct was achieved in 76% and partial clearance in 17% of 1006 patients. Short-term pain relief with reduction in the number of analgesics ingested was seen in 84% of these patients. For large CBD calculi, a nasobiliary tube is placed to help target the calculi, as well as bathe the calculi in saline - a simple maneuver which helps to facilitate fragmentation. The aim is to fragment calculi to < 5 mm size and clear the same during ERCP. Complete clearance of the CBD was achieved in 84.4% of and partial clearance in 12.3% of 283 patients. More than 90% of the patients with pancreatic and biliary calculi needed three or fewer sessions of ESWL with 5000 shocks being delivered at each session. The use of epidural anesthesia helped in reducing patient movement. This, together with the better focus achieved with newer third-generation lithotripters, prevents collateral tissue damage and minimizes the complications. Complications in our experience with nearly 1300 patients were minimal, and no extension of hospital stay was required. Similar rates of clearance of pancreatic and biliary calculi with minimal adverse effects have been reported from the centers where ESWL is performed regularly. In view of its high efficiency, non-invasive nature and low complication rates, ESWL can be offered as the first-line therapy for selected patients with large pancreatic and CBD calculi.