Background: Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is not as widely used in children as in adults and is performed in few specialized centers. The aim of the present study was to review the experience of ERCP in children younger than 3 months in a national referral center.
Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed of all of the babies younger than 3 months who underwent ERCP between 2000 and 2010. Data on demographics, diagnosis, type of anesthesia, treatments, and complications were collected.
Results: A total of 27 babies, 14 boys, were examined. Median age was 55 days (range 33–89). Ultrasound was normal in 16 infants, whereas others included small gallbladder (4), biliary stones (3), and dilated bile ducts (3). Thirteen infants underwent earlier liver biopsy, which was inconclusive. ERCP led to the diagnosis of biliary atresia in 13 infants who had subsequent surgery. In others, ERCP showed choledochal cyst (1), biliary stones (2), dilated bile ducts (1), and normal examination (6); there were 5 failures. The final diagnoses in our cohort were extrahepatic biliary atresia (15), biliary stones (5), neonatal hepatitis (4), choledochal cyst (1), paucity of intrahepatic bile duct (1), and congenital hepatic fibrosis (1). Diagnoses in the failed ERCP group included biliary atresia (2), bile duct paucity (1), and biliary stones (2). In 4 (19%) infants with clinical suspicion of extrahepatic biliary atresia, a normal ERCP ruled out the diagnosis and avoided an intraoperative cholangiogram. No complications, including pancreatitis, were reported.
Conclusions: ERCP in infants is feasible and has no complications. It may serve as an additional diagnostic tool in neonatal cholestasis in inconclusive cases and may prevent more invasive procedures. ERCP may be part of the algorithm of neonatal cholestasis when it is available and other investigations fail to confirm a diagnosis.