• Pancreatitis associated with biliary tract operations continues to be an important clinical problem. The results of biliary tract operations performed on 1256 patients were carefully scrutinized for the presence of postoperative hyperamylasemia and pancreatitis persisting after 48 hours. Patients were evaluated in the context of the presence or absence of preoperative pancreatic dysfunction. Similarly, various operative risk factors were evaluated, including cholangiography, choledocholithiasis, common duct exploration, choledochoscopy, choledochoduodenostomy, and sphincteroplasty. Operative cholangiography did not induce postoperative pancreatitis. The incidence of postoperative pancreatitis following cholecystectomy was 0.6%, which was significantly greater than the incidence following common duct exploration (8.4%). Pancreatitis following biliary tract surgery seemed to be not directly related to the performance of choledochoscopy, sphincteroplasty, or choledochoduodenostomy, as it developed with similar frequency in patients undergoing common duct exploration alone. The timing of operative therapy in patients with biliary tract pancreatitis did not significantly alter the frequency with which pancreatitis persisted in the postoperative period. In 970 patients undergoing cholecystectomy, one patient who had preoperative pancreatitis died of postoperative pancreatitis. Of 286 patients undergoing common duct exploration, seven patients died with pancreatitis. In three of these patients there was no active preoperative pancreatitis, and in one of these patients pancreatitis was the cause of death. Four patients with preoperative pancreatitis eventually died of pancreatitis in the postoperative period. Pancreatitis is an important complication of biliary tract disease and operations, and all efforts should be extended to suppress its occurrence and development.
(Arch Surg 1987;122:575-580)