1206 patients with gallstone disease were treated between January 1985 and December 1987, using an interdisciplinary concept that included surgery, endoscopic sphincterotomy, and extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy (ESWL). Twenty-five per cent of the patients who were admitted for gallbladder stones were treated by ESWL, whereas 75% underwent surgery. Mortality of elective treatment for gallbladder stones amounted to 0.25% (0.4% in surgery, 0% in ESWL). Postoperative complication rate was low (4.2% in surgery, 7.0% in ESWL). After ESWL treatment, 80% of the patients were free of stones after a follow-up period of 1 year. Recurrence rate in these patients amounted up to 10%; in seven of 70 patients, mean follow-up period was 6 months after complete disappearance of stones. Twenty-seven per cent of all patients who were admitted for bile duct stones underwent surgery, whereas in the other 73%, calculi were removed via endoscopy. ESWL treatment was used additionally, if necessary. Fragments were left behind in three of 75 patients (4.0%) after surgical treatment, and in 7 of 200 patients (3.5%) after endoscopic and ESWL treatment, respectively. In the latter group, three patients (1.5%) required an additional operation. There were no deaths in either of the groups. The use of ESWL for treatment of gallbladder stones needs to be evaluated in long-term follow-up studies. Thus far, surgery remains the dominating method. Endoscopic procedures, eventually combined with ESWL, represent the preferred treatment for patients with bile duct stones
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