cbd exploration

Common Bile Duct Exploration – Procedures

What the Anesthesiologist Should Know before the Operative Procedure

Common bile duct procedures may cause problems for many practitioners because of the associated comorbidities. It is not uncommon that these patients present with significant cardiopulmonary issues. What raises the level of acuity is the presence of liver dysfunction and/or concomitant sepsis. Some of the patients will be asymptomatic, but every clinician must be aware of these risks associated with the procedures.

One must do a careful and complete physical examination and pay extra attention to a history that includes jaundice, prior surgeries that may have required blood transfusions, excessive use of alcohol and other recreational drugs, sexual history, as well as presence of pruritus, abdominal distention, weight loss, easy fatigability, and easy bruising after minor trauma. Clinical signs for liver dysfunction should be sought for such as: icterus, ascites, hepatomegaly, splenomegaly, palmar erythema, spider nevi, testicular atrophy and gynecomastia.

If suspicion for liver disease exists, testing for liver function, liver enzymes, coagulation studies, and electrolytes should be performed. While routine liver function tests are not indicated due to low prevalence in most preoperative patients, it is common that patients with biliary disease have already had a full laboratory evaluation.

1. What is the urgency of the surgery?

What is the risk of delay in order to obtain additional preoperative information?

In circumstances of biliary obstruction or biliary sepsis there is evidence that surgical intervention must proceed without delay. The clinical information or the lab work may be incomplete, but rapidity in resolving the issue may avoid overwhelming sepsis and worsening liver dysfunction. Most commonly this diagnosis was made after some imaging was performed, whether it was a CT scan, right upper quadrant ultrasound, or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

The decision may be to proceed with either urgent/emergency surgical intervention or with ERCP to evacuate a stone or place a stent in a narrowed/strictured biliary tree due to pancreaticobiliary malignancy.

Emergency: Acute emergencies in biliary surgery are relatively uncommon. They mostly include biliary tract sepsis, acalculous cholecystitis with sepsis, or acute biliary tract perforation that may require biliary exploration and/or repair. Coexisting diseases in the setting of an acute inflammatory process are likely to be the major concern for the anesthesiologist. The requirement for invasive monitoring is individualized based on the procedure and the clinical presentation: that is, a septic patient may require invasive monitoring and vasopressor medication and may also need an ICU bed and prolonged intubation as part of the perioperative course.

Another important difference that needs to be taken into account is whether the procedure is being done by a surgeon in the operating room, or requires that the anesthesia team provide patient care in the GI suite and the procedure performed by a gastroenterologist. Unless the patient comes from the ICU and already has a secured airway it can be assumed that there is a “full stomach” risk for pulmonary aspiration. So even if in another circumstance one might consider MAC anesthesia for endoscopy, General anesthesia would be preferred by most clinicians.

Urgent: These are most of the gallbladder surgical procedures that are done while on call. Patients often present with biliary colic and cholethiasis confirmed on ultrasonography or abdominal CT scanning. Blood chemistries often show enzymatic evidence of biliary obstruction plus possible elevated bilirubin levels. If the patient is very unstable or has only sludge and no evidence of biliary tree obstruction a cholecystostomy tube is chosen as a viable alternative; otherwise, laparoscopic cholecystectomy with intraoperative cholangiogram is the usual course for this presentation. As gastrointestinal endoscopists become more and more aggressive, it is likely that the GI suite may replace the operating room for some of these cases.

Elective: This category includes all symptomatic patients with gallstones who require cholecystectomy. Most surgeons today want to provide these as outpatient procedures, but not all patients are good candidates, and evaluation and management should be individualized. Another category of patients are those with chronic pancreatitis or pancreaticobiliary malignancies who may require ERCP and placement of biliary/pancreatic stents in the GI suite. In many institutions, there is the concern that patients for GI endoscopy do not come to the preoperative clinic for medical evaluation and some information may be missed. Whether to administer GETA or MAC is a decision based on indications/contraindications, preference of the provider, and the skills of the gastroenterologist.

A third category are patients with suspected or known pancreaticobiliary malignancy who require either curative or palliative major surgical procedures. These patients often have laparoscopic evaluation prior to the open procedure, whether done in the same setting or not as is the preference of the surgeon. They are evaluated in the preadmission clinic, have all the lab work ready, and often benefit from regional anesthesia for postoperative pain control in addition to general anesthesia. The use of invasive monitoring depends on the planned extent of the surgical procedure and the surgeon’s skills in avoiding large blood losses.

2. Preoperative evaluation

The most important aspects of the medical condition of nonseptic biliary tract patient are the presence and severity of liver dysfunction, along with the expected difficulty of the surgical procedure and the type of anesthetic planned. While coagulopathy is not common with biliary tract disease, its presence is a serious risk factor. Classifications of liver dysfunction have been implemented to aid clinicians with risk assessment (Table I).

Table I.
Measure 1 point 2 points 3 points
Total bilirubin, μmol/L (mg/dL) 50 (>3)
Serum albumin, g/L >35 28-35 2.20
Ascites None Mild Severe
Hepatic encephalopathy None Grade I-II (or suppressed with medication) Grade III-IV (or refractory)
A. Child-Pugh-Turcotte classification of chronic liver disease

This classification has limitations because it is based on subjective data such as degree of ascites and encephalopathy, which are observer-dependent quantification and was developed before the ultrasound evaluation of ascites was possible.

Chronic liver disease is classified in Child-Pugh Class A to C (Table II) by adding the points from Table I.

Table II.
Points Class One-year survival Two-year survival
5-6 A 100% 85%
7-9 B 81% 57%
10-15 C 45% 35%

Another prognostic model for estimating the severity of liver disease is becoming popular, the Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD). Initially developed for patients who underwent elective transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS), and shown to be an accurate predictor of survival after this procedure, it is hypothesized that MELD can be used as a prognostic tool for broader range of liver disease and severity.

Briefly, an increasing MELD score is associated with an increased severity of liver dysfunction and 3-month mortality risk. Due to its accuracy for predicting short-term survival it has been used especially by the transplant community. Due to its predictive value, the MELD system has now been expanded beyond the transplant patient and applied to a larger variety of patients with liver disease like patients undergoing TIPS, patients with alcoholic hepatitis, hepatorenal syndrome, cirrhosis with sepsis unrelated to spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, acute variceal hemorrhage, and, relevant here, for assessment of surgical mortality risk in liver disease.

The initial MELD score model took into consideration the etiology of the liver disease whether cholestatic or alcoholic or due to other etiologies.

The original formula used is: 3.8[Ln serum bilirubin (mg/dl)] + 11.2[Ln INR] +9.6[Ln serum creatinine (mg/dl)] + 6.4[etiology: 0 if cholestatic or alcoholic, 1 if other etiologies], where Ln is the natural logarithm. There are several calculators available online slightly different for various etiologies. As far as the tool utilized for determining the risk of postoperative mortality after major surgical procedures including gastrointestinal, orthopedic, and cardiac surgery there is an online calculator that takes into consideration the etiology of liver dysfunction and therefore it resembles the initial MELD formula, and can be found at:

It has been suggested that patients with a MELD score below 10 can undergo elective surgery, those with a score between 10 and 15 may undergo elective surgery with caution, and patients with MELD score above 15 should not have elective surgery.

The current MELD used by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) with the goal in prioritizing allocation of donor organs for liver transplantation is different in terms of not including the etiology of liver dysfunction:

C. Measures of hepatic function

Measures have been proposed including dynamic tests of liver function; unfortunately, they do not seem to provide additional prognostic information when compared to Child-Pugh classification.


The APACHE score can predict survival in patients admitted to the ICU, but they are not specifically evaluated for patients with cirrhosis undergoing surgery.

Elective or semi-urgent procedures should not be performed in patients with acute or fulminant hepatitis, alcoholic hepatitis, severe chronic hepatitis, Child class C or MELD >15 cirrhosis, severe coagulopathy, or severe extrahepatic manifestations of liver dysfunction such as hypoxia, cardiomyopathy, or acute renal failure. Elective procedures are well tolerated in patients with Child’s class A or MELD

Figure 1.

Biliary tree injuries. See text for descriptions of types of injuries.

Type A includes injuries that involve leakage into the gallbladder bed from either minor hepatic ducts or cystic duct without loss in continuity of the biliary tree. Types B and C are occlusions (Type B), and transection (Type C) injuries of aberrant right hepatic ducts, and are frequently are associated with injuries to right hepatic artery. Type D present as lateral damage to common bile duct resulting in bile leak. Type E injuries are subclassified according to the level of injury of the biliary tree into five subtypes. These patients present years after cholecystectomy with jaundice and require surgical repair via hepaticojejunostomy.

In general complications after laparoscopic cholecystectomy are due to patient selection, surgical inexperience, and technical constraints of the minimally invasive procedures. If biliary injuries are recognized at the time of surgery a T-tube drainage of the common bile duct is indicated and primary repair is contraindicated due to higher rates of breakdown or strictures. Major biliary leaks present within 2 to 10 days after cholecystectomy with fever, abdominal pain, and/or bilious ascites, mild jaundice, leukocytosis, abnormal liver function tests, and mildly elevated bilirubin.

ERCP is an important diagnostic tool, and also can be followed by stent placement or even sphincterotomy to allowing free flow of bile. If symptoms improve, the stent can be either removed or replaced in 2 to 4 weeks’ time, although most will require hepaticojejunostomy. For patients who continue to have severe abdominal pain or peritonitis or progressive intra-abdominal sepsis, operative exploration with wash-out may be needed. Occlusive injury to the right hepatic lobe results in atrophy of the right lobe, which ultimately requires hepaticojejunostomy with possible segmental liver resection if atrophy is significant. There are multiple types of operative procedures to correct a bile duct injury, a Roux-en-Y bypass being the most commonly used.

ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography)

ERCP is a procedure performed routinely in the GI suite initially developed as a nonsurgical approach for diseases of pancreaticobiliary system. The purpose is either diagnostic for biliary or sphincter of Oddi pathology or therapeutic when stents are placed to aid with bile drainage in either benign strictures or malignancies of hepatobiliary system.

For this procedure patients need to be prone with the head turned toward the endoscopist. The decision to provide MAC vs. GETA is dependent upon the anesthesiologist’s preference, patient’s coexisting diseases, and the endoscopist’s experience. It seems that anesthesiologists that work with the same team for many of these cases feel more comfortable in providing MAC anesthesia. On the other hand when most of these procedures are performed with nursing sedation and the anesthesia team is called for a very complicated case, general anesthesia is the expectation. If MAC is the desired anesthetic good topical anesthesia of the hypopharynx should be done by the endoscopist. A minimal anesthetic may be ideal for sicker patients; nevertheless, it is more cumbersome to provide MAC in a prone patient. Small doses of medications such as fentanyl with only modest boluses of propofol while the probe is inserted can be used; infusions of remifentanyl or dexmedetomidine may also be used. Most important is the avoidance of apnea in a prone patient since mask ventilation or insertion of a LMA may be very challenging. Some of these patients come repeatedly for stent revisions, and are therefore well known to the anesthesia teams.

The advantage of MAC is rapid turnover and fast track toward discharge home, but it requires a cooperative patient. Disadvantages are obvious, first related to difficulty in maintaining a patent airway if large doses of sedation are being administered, prolonged procedure duration if the anesthetic is inadequate, and imperfect relaxation with limited tolerance for very long procedures.

Post-ERCP complications include cholangitis, cholecystitis, and pancreatic sepsis. The most important risk factor for developing cholangitis is failed endoscopic drainage, in which case antibiotic treatment may be indicated, because subsequently patients may develop fever, right upper quadrant pain, and jaundice. If adequate drainage cannot be achieved, percutaneous or surgical decompressive procedures should be promptly performed.

Gastric reduction surgeries are now considered an established treatment for bariatric patients. There are several types, including biliopancreatic diversion (BPD). BPD is considered a malabsorptive procedure and, due to its side effects that include both macro- and micronutrient deficiencies, can be followed by significant complications, some of which can be life-threatening. Another point of interest is that some surgeons perform cholecystectomy at the time of gastric bypass procedures. This is obviously associated with different risk factors due to preexisting diseases, including morbid obesity.

Whipple procedure

Whipple procedure also known as pancreaticoduodenectomy is a major surgical procedure utilized for treatment of cancers of head of pancreas, common bile duct, duodenum near the pancreas, or duodenal papilla; it consists of resection of gastric antrum, first and second portion of duodenum, head of the pancreas, common bile duct and gallbladder. Since radiographic studies like CT scan may underestimate subtle aspects of the disease, some surgeons elect to perform a laparoscopic examination prior to this procedure, either in the same setting or at a different time, and biopsy lymph nodes, liver or peritoneum that might look suspicious for cancer; the goal is to select only the candidates with localized disease that are amenable to surgical resection.

A pylorus-sparing pancreaticoduodenectomy has recently emerged and appears to be more popular especially in Europe. It seems that this newer technique offers the benefit of shorter surgical time and required less blood transfusion when compared to the classic Whipple, but there seem to be no difference in morbidity, hospital mortality, and postoperative complications between them. (See Pancreaticoduodenectomy chapter.)

Common Bile Duct Exploration – Procedures What the Anesthesiologist Should Know before the Operative Procedure Common bile duct procedures may cause problems for many practitioners because of

Laparoscopic CBD Exploration

K. S. Savita

Institute of Minimal Access Surgery, AMRI Hospital, Room No. 112, First Floor (Annex Building), 15 Panchanantala, Gariahat Road (Near Dhakuria Bridge), Kolkata, 700029 India

Vishnu K. Bhartia

Institute of Minimal Access Surgery, AMRI Hospital, Room No. 112, First Floor (Annex Building), 15 Panchanantala, Gariahat Road (Near Dhakuria Bridge), Kolkata, 700029 India


Laparoscopic CBD exploration (LCBDE) is a cost effective, efficient and minimally invasive method of treating choledocholithiasis. Laparoscopic Surgery for common bile duct stones (CBDS) was first described in 1991, Petelin (Surg Endosc 17:1705–1715, 2003). The surgical technique has evolved since then and several studies have concluded that Laparoscopic common bile duct exploration(LCBDE) procedures are superior to sequential endolaparoscopic treatment in terms of both clinical and economical outcomes, Cuschieri et al. (Surg Endosc 13:952–957, 1999), Rhodes et al. (Lancet 351:159–161, 1998). We started doing LCBDE in 1998.Our experience with LCBDE from 1998 to 2004 has been published, Gupta and Bhartia (Indian J Surg 67:94–99, 2005). Here we present our series from January 2005 to March 2009. In a retrospective study from January 2005 to March 2009, we performed 3060 laparoscopic cholecystectomies, out of which 342 patients underwent intraoperative cholangiogram and 158 patients eventually had CBD exploration. 6 patients were converted to open due to presence of multiple stones and 2 patients were converted because of difficulty in defining Calots triangle; 42 patients underwent transcystic clearance, 106 patients had choledochotomy, 20 patients had primary closure of CBD whereas in 86 patients CBD was closed over T-tube; 2 patients had incomplete stone clearance and underwent postoperative ERCP. Choledochoduodenosotomy was done in 2 patients. Patients were followed regularly at six monthly intervals with a range of six months to three years of follow-up. There were no major complications like bile leak or pancreatitis. 8 patients had port—site minor infection which settled with conservative treatment. There were no cases of retained stones or intraabdominal infection. The mean length of hospital stay was 3 days (range 2–8 days). LCBDE remains an efficient, safe, cost-effective method of treating CBDS. Primary closure of choledochotomy in select patients is a viable & safe option with shorter operative time and length of stay. LCBDE can be performed successfully with minimal morbidity & mortality.

Laparoscopic Common Bile Duct Exploration

Introduction In the era of open cholecystectomy, open common bile duct(CBD) exploration was the procedure of choice for CBD stones. However, with laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) becoming the gold standard for cholelithiasis, the treatment for CBD stone has changed and various options are now available. These include Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography(ERCP), laparoscopic CBD exploration(LCBDE) or open CBD exploration. Laparoscopic CBD exploration has all the advantages of minimal access and is also most cost effective compared to the other options [1–3]. However, advanced surgical skills are required for the performance of the procedure. Here we present our experience of LCBDE.

Materials and Methods From January 2005 to March 2009, 3060 laparoscopic cholecystectomies were performed. Intraoperative cholangiogram was done in 342 patients, CBD stones were present in 157 patients and 1 patient had a laparoscopically visible CBD stone so he did not undergo intraoperative cholangiogram. These 158 patients were analyzed with respect to their demographics, case records, operation notes and follow-up data. All significant complications were recorded . Complications looked for included bile leak, pancreatitis, cholangitis, T-tube problems, retained stones, urinary retention and wound infection. Our management protocol for suspected CBDS is given in Fig. 1 . Intraoperative cholangiogram was performed selectively in patients with cholelithiasis as per criteria in Table 1 . CBD exploration was performed either by a Transcystic approach or by a choledochotomy based on criteria in enumerated in Table 2 .

Laparoscopic CBD Exploration K. S. Savita Institute of Minimal Access Surgery, AMRI Hospital, Room No. 112, First Floor (Annex Building), 15 Panchanantala, Gariahat Road (Near Dhakuria