What is laparoscopic bile duct exploration?
This is a procedure to remove stones from the bile duct that runs from the liver to the duodenum and is connected to the gallbladder.
The procedure is usually part of a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. During the cholecystectomy an x ray of the bile duct is performed to confirm if there are stones in the bile duct. If there are stones in the common bile duct the front of the bile duct is opened and a flexible camera inserted. The stones are then removed using a wire basket. Once all the stones have been removed the incision in the bile duct is closed using laparoscopic suturing. Sometimes it is necessary to leave a T-tube drain in the bile duct which remains in place for a minimum of 6 weeks. A drain is usually placed next to the closure of the bile duct. The gallbladder is also removed as part of the procedure.
What are the benefits of this procedure?
The main benefit is that it avoids an open procedure and recovery is faster. It also allows gallbladder stones and bile duct stones to be dealt with in the same operation.
Are there any risks involved?
There is a slightly higher risk of conversion to an open procedure compared to straightforward lap cholecystectomy. Use of a T-tube drain can result is local septic complications. Mortality risk is related to the pre-operative clinical state and age.