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Prophylactic pancreatic stents to prevent ERCP-induced pancreatitis: When do you use them?

Stuart Sherman, MD
Section Editor
Douglas A Howell, MD, FASGE, FACG
Deputy Editor
Kristen M Robson, MD, MBA, FACG


Endoscopic placement of polyethylene stents is a well-established therapy for treating a variety of benign and malignant biliary tract diseases. Application of similar techniques in the pancreas is emerging. Pancreatic duct stents have been placed to bridge dominant strictures, bypass obstructing pancreatic duct stones, drain pseudocysts, seal duct disruptions, treat symptomatic minor (ie, pancreas divisum) and/or major (ie, sphincter of Oddi dysfunction) sphincter stenosis, prevent procedure-induced pancreatitis, serve as a guide for sphincterotomy, and facilitate bile duct cannulation (table 1).

This topic review will focus on the indications and efficacy of placing a pancreatic stent to prevent post-ERCP pancreatitis. An overview of pancreatic stenting and its complications is provided separately. (See "Overview of pancreatic stenting and its complications".)


Pancreatitis is the most common complication of diagnostic and therapeutic ERCP occurring in 1 to 15 percent of patients. (See "Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography: Indications, patient preparation, and complications".)

The pancreas is subjected to many types of potential injury during ERCP and endoscopic sphincterotomy: mechanical, chemical, hydrostatic, enzymatic, microbiological, allergic, and thermal [1]. These mechanisms of injury may act independently or in concert to induce post-procedure pancreatitis. Several patient and procedure-related risk factors for post-ERCP pancreatitis have been found, which are described separately. (See "Post-endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) pancreatitis".)


Recognition of risk factors associated with post-ERCP pancreatitis provided the rationale for evaluating a number of measures for preventing post-ERCP pancreatitis. A possible approach is to use prophylactic pancreatic stents.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 10, 2016.
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