OBJECTIVE: In some patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a localized, high-grade (dominant) stricture may be the principal cause of symptoms and hyperbilirubinemia. The aim of this retrospective study was to compare the beneficial effects and risk of balloon dilation alone versus dilation followed by stenting in PSC patients with dominant strictures. METHODS: Charts from a group of 1009 patients with PSC seen over 10 yr were reviewed to identify those patients who had undergone endoscopic or percutaneous therapeutic intervention. Procedural and clinical data were recorded. RESULTS: A total of 71 PSC patients, median age of 49 yr (range 18-78 yr) were identified. Thirty-four patients were treated with endoscopic balloon dilation alone, and 37 patients were treated with balloon dilation plus stent placement. Stents were placed percutaneously (n = 19), endoscopically (n = 14), or using both interventions (n = 4). Both groups were comparable at baseline with regards to age, symptoms, and bilirubin level. The median duration of follow-up after intervention was similar in both groups. The number of intervention-related complications (30 vs 6, p = 0.001) as well as the incidence of acute cholangitis (p = 0.004) were more common in the stent group compared to the balloon dilation group. There were more complications related to percutaneous stent placement than endoscopic placement (23 vs 7, p = 0.001). There was no significant difference between the two groups with regards to improving cholestasis. CONCLUSIONS: There was no additional obvious benefit from stenting after balloon dilation in the treatment of dominant strictures in PSC patients. Stenting was associated with more complications, and its role after dilation should be assessed in a randomized trial rather than being accepted as routinely indicated in this setting.
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