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Patient care — surgical procedures

Sphincterotomy: Sphincterotomy involves cutting the muscle of the common bile duct (sphincter) at the junction of the common bile duct and the duodenum in order to allow easier access to the common bile duct. The cutting is done with an electrosurgical instrument passed through the same type of endoscope that is used for ERCP.

After the sphincter is cut, instruments may be passed through the endoscope and up into the hepatic and common bile ducts to grab and pull out the gallstone or to crush the gallstone. It also is possible to pass a lithotripsy instrument that uses high frequency sound waves to break up the gallstone.

Complications of sphincterotomy and extraction of gallstones include the general anesthesia, perforation of the bile ducts or duodenum, bleeding, and pancreatitis.

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