A UK survey on variation in the practice of management of choledocholithiasis and laparoscopic common bile duct exploration (ALiCE Survey).
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BACKGROUND: The practice of managing suspected/confirmed common bile duct stones (CBDS) can vary significantly in the UK. We aimed to assess this variability in practice and challenges to form a basis for future consensus. METHODS: An electronic survey containing 40 questions on various aspects of management of CBDS was sent to surgeons who perform cholecystectomies via five surgical associations. RESULTS: A total of 132 surgeons responded to the survey. The speciality of surgeons includes upper gastro-intestinal (68%), general (18%), colorectal (12%), and others (2%). For patients with suspected CBD stones, 80% would choose magnetic resonance cholangio-pancreatography, and 14.4% would proceed to intra-operative imaging. Most surgeons preferred intra-operative cholangiogram over intra-operative ultrasound (83% vs 17%). For the treatment, 62.1% preferred a two-stage approach [endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography (ERCP) followed by laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC)] and 33.4% chose a single-stage approach [LC + laparoscopic common bile duct exploration (LCBDE)]. Eighty (60.6%) responders performed LCBDE, and 19 (23.8%) of them performed > 10 LCBDEs in a year. Two third of surgeons (62.5%) preferred a trans-choledochal approach to CBDS. Half of the surgeons that perform LCBDE use a T-tube selectively and 1.6% routinely. The "availability of very good ERCP service" and "lack of formal training" were the two main reasons for surgeons not performing LCBDE. Both surgeons' speciality and whether they perform other complex laparoscopic surgery were significantly associated with choosing a two-stage approach over a one-stage approach (χ2 test, speciality p = 0.033, complex surgery p = 0.011). CONCLUSION: Our survey confirms the significant variability in the diagnosis and management of CBDS. The two-stage approach is still the most common way of managing CBDS in the UK. The main reasons for the low uptake of the single-stage approach are the availability of good ERCP service, lack of equipment and lack of formal training in the technique of LCBDE.
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