Efficacy of percutaneous treatment of biliary tract calculi using the holmium:YAG laser

J. W. Hazey, M. McCreary, G. Guy, W. S. Melvin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background: Few Western studies have focused on percutaneous techniques using percutaneous transhepatic choledochoscopy (PTHC) and holmium:yttrium- aluminum-garnet (YAG) laser to ablate biliary calculi in patients unable or unwilling to undergo endoscopic or surgical removal of the calculi. The authors report the efficacy of the holmium:YAG laser in clearing complex biliary calculi using percutaneous access techniques. Methods: This study retrospectively reviewed 13 non-Asian patients with complex secondary biliary calculi treated percutaneously using holmium:YAG laser. Percutaneous access was accomplished via left, right, or bilateral hepatic ducts and upsized for passage of a 7-Fr video choledochoscope. Lithotripsy was performed under choledochoscopic vision using a holmium:YAG laser with 200- or 365-μm fibers generating 0.6 to 1.0 joules at 8 to 15 Hz. Patients underwent treatment until stone clearance was confirmed by PTHC. Downsizing and subsequent removal of percutaneous catheters completed the treatment course. Results: Seven men and six women with an average age of 69 years underwent treatment. All the patients had their biliary tract stones cleared successfully. Of the 13 patients, 3 were treated solely as outpatients. The average length of percutaneous access was 108 days. At this writing, one patient still has a catheter in place. The average number of holmium:YAG laser treatments required for stone clearance was 1.6, with no patients requiring more than 3 treatments. Of the 13 patients, 8 underwent a single holmium:YAG laser treatment to clear their calculi. Prior unsuccessful attempts at endoscopic removal of the calculi had been experienced by 7 of the 13 patients. Five patients underwent percutaneous access and subsequent stone removal as their sole therapy for biliary stones. Five patients were cleared of their calculi after percutaneous laser ablation of large stones and percutaneous basket retrieval of the remaining stone fragments. There was one complication of pain requiring admission, and no deaths. Conclusions: The use of PTHC with holmium:YAG laser ablation is safe and efficacious, but requires prolonged biliary access and often multiple procedures to ensure clearance of all calculi.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1180-1183
Number of pages4
JournalSurgical Endoscopy and Other Interventional Techniques
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Choledocholithiasis
  • Holmium:YAG laser
  • Percutaneous choledochoscopy
  • Percutaneous lithotripsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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