Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL) is an established treatment of irretrievable biliary and pancreatic stones, but the cost of the shockwave generators limits its widespread use. We revised data about the effectiveness of our treatment for refractory stones using a transportable shockwave generator.
We retrospectively evaluated the short and medium-term outcomes of patients who underwent ESWL using a transportable electromagnetic shockwave generator between 1998 and 2003 at our unit, for the treatment of irretrievable bile duct or pancreatic duct stones. All patients received intravenous conscious sedation and antibiotic prophylaxis.
Complete stone clearance was achieved in 70/82 patients (85.4%), in 66 of the patients (94.2%) with 1 session of ESWL. Despite the insertion of a stent in the bile duct, 2 patients had moderate cholangitis, while they waited for the next ESWL session. We did not record any moderate-severe complication of ESWL, but 2 patients underwent surgery owing to perforation/bleeding during endoscopic removal of residual fragments. A symptomatic recurrence of stones was recorded in 10/69 (14.5%) patients, who had been previously cleared and whose follow-up data (median follow-up 29 mo; range 7 to 66) were available.
We obtained satisfactory stone clearance by using a transportable shockwave generator. Most patients required 1 session. Our experience confirmed the safety of the treatment, even though patients may experience cholangitis while awaiting definitive treatment. The use of a transportable ESWL generator may be a valuable option in centers, while ensuring a sufficient proficiency in biliary endoscopy.
*Department of Surgery, Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Unit
†Clinical Effectiveness Unit, Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova, Reggio Emilia, Italy
Reprints: Rita Conigliaro, MD, Department of Surgery, Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Unit, Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova, Viale Risorgimento 57, 42100 Reggio Emilia, Italy (e-mail: email@example.com).
Received for publication July 12, 2005; accepted November 3, 2005