Background: Prevention of iatrogenic injuries is of paramount importance in difficult laparoscopic cholecystectomies (LC). The objective of this study was to analyze the effectiveness of cholangiography using a pre-inserted endoscopic naso-biliary drain (ENBD) for navigation during difficult cholecystectomies. Methods: The study design was a retrospective case analysis. In 508 patients who underwent LC in a tertiary referral university hospital from 1996 through 2007, difficult cholecystectomy was anticipated in 26 patients due to possibly aberrant biliary anatomy (four patients), unclear cystic duct anatomy during magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) and/or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) (three patients), and acute cholecystitis (19 patients). An ENBD was inserted during ERCP prior to LC for cholangiography (ENBDC) to facilitate safe dissection during LC. Prevalence of biliary complications was assessed as the main outcome measurement. Results: The majority (68%) of the patients who underwent ENBDC had complicated cholecystitis. Advanced technical expertise was not required for insertion of an ENBD. In retrospect, ENBDC was useful in prevention of a possible catastrophe in 69% of cases. Open conversion was necessary in five patients and biliary complications occurred in five patients only in the non-ENBD group. There were no procedure-related complications. One limitation of the study was that it was not randomized and there was no comparison with patients without ENBDC. Conclusions: ENBDC is a useful and safe tool in the prevention of iatrogenic bile duct injuries in LC.
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