Background/purpose: While endoscopic sphincterotomy (EST) is performed worldwide for the removal of common bile duct stones, many biliary endoscopists hesitate to regard endoscopic papillary balloon dilation (EPBD) as a standard procedure for treatment. Therefore, the aim of this review is to re-evaluate the status of EPBD for the treatment of common bile duct stones. Results: A major benefit of EPBD is preservation of papillary function, which is not complete but may be greater than that after EST. The disadvantages of EPBD compared with EST are that EPBD is difficult to use for the removal of larger stones because of the smaller biliary opening, it requires more frequent use of mechanical lithotripsy, and it is associated with a higher incidence of pancreatitis, although the risks of bleeding and perforation are low. Since the biliary sphincter is easily dilated with a balloon catheter, EPBD may be effective for patients with anatomic anomalies, such as after gastric bypass surgery or in the presence of a periampullary diverticulum. No standard procedure exists to reduce the risk of acute pancreatitis with EPBD. Conclusion: EPBD is feasible, however, we must pursue less hazardous techniques of papillary balloon dilation. Furthermore, we must understand the benefits and limitations of EPBD and determine whether it could provide clinical benefits for long-term complications.
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