South African Gastroenterology Review

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Malignant biliary strictures - a flexible view: review

KE Pettengell


Endoscopic stenting of malignant biliary strictures offers a relatively safe and cost effective treatment for unresectable malignancies. Jaundice and pruritis can be relieved and this is accompanied by an improved quality of life. The main problem with endoscopic stents is their tendency to block with time. Attempts to extend their useful life have been made by modifying the shape and composition of plastic stents and more successfully, by the introduction of wide bore metal stents. The need to drain all areas of biliary obstruction has been questioned and the role of preoperative biliary drainage has been explored by meta-analyses of previous trials. Palliative intervention for obstructive jaundice in pancreatic and biliary cancer may involve ERCP with stenting or surgery. The available evidence does not indicate a major advantage to either alternative so the choice may be made depending on clinical availability and patient or practitioner preference. Predicted survival The technical skills to perform ERCP are widely available and this modality may be preferred to surgery in some cases due to the lower overall resource utilization and shorter hospitalization. The above paragraph is taken from the United States National Institute of Health State Of The Art Conference Statement on the role of ERCP and diagnosis therapy published in June 2002.

SA Gastroenterology Rev. Vol.1(2) 2003:9-11

AJOL African Journals Online