A prospective nationwide study on the impact of the level of sedation on cannulation success and complications of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography

Authors Bengt Hallerbäck, Lars Enochsson.


Background Difficult or unsuccessful cannulation of the papilla of Vater is associated with complications during endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). The aim of this study was to investigate whether deep sedation facilitates the cannulation and reduces the complication rate.

Methods Nationwide data from ERCP procedures were registered prospectively in the web-based Swedish Registry for Gallstone Surgery and ERCP (GallRiks). These data were used for a casecontrol study comparing the outcomes when using propofol sedation (PS) or basic sedation (BS) with midazolam in combination with opioids.

Results We analyzed 31,001 ERCP procedures in patients who had no previous ERCP. Of these, 14,907 were performed using PS and 16,094 using BS. The cannulation rate was higher in the PS group than the BS group: 89.0% vs. 86.7%, P<0.0001. The procedure time was longer in the PS group than in the BS group: 35.7 vs. 31.2 min, P<0.0001. The rate of intra-procedural complications was lower in the PS group than in the BS group: 2.9% vs. 3.7%, P<0.0001. The total frequency of post-procedural complications was 13.0% in the PS and 12.6% in the BS group (P=0.2607). The frequency of post- ERCP pancreatitis (PEP) was higher in the PS group than in the BS group: 4.6% vs. 4.0%, P=0.0136.

Conclusions PS in ERCP leads to a significantly higher cannulation success rate and fewer intra-procedural complications, but there was no significant difference in total post-ERCP complications. The procedure time was longer, and PEP was more common in the PS group. A plausible explanation could be that deep sedation might lead to more aggressive attempts to cannulate the papilla, resulting in a higher risk for PEP.

Keywords Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, sedation, cannulation, post-ERCP pancreatitis

Ann Gastroenterol 2020; 33 (3): 299-304

Original Articles