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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 8, Issue 1, Pages 33-35

Endoscopic Fistulotomy – ‘The Suprapapillary Punch’: A Method of Access to the Bile Duct during ERCP

Noel B Hershfield

Department of Medicine, The University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Received 19 June 1992; Accepted 12 July 1993

Copyright © 1994 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is established as the method of choice to investigate the biliary tree when obstruction is suspected. On rare occasions, the papilla cannot be entered because of anatomical or pathological abnormalities. This report describes endoscopic fistulotomy or the suprapapillary punch that has been carried out at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary, Alberta, on 30 of 623 patients referred for ERCP for conditions causing obstruction of the common bile duct or suspected obstruction of the common bile duct. The following communication also describes the method of suprapapillary punch or endoscopic fistulotomy. Results have been excellent with only one complication, a minor attack of pancreatitis after the procedure. In summary, the suprapapillary punch or fistulotomy is a safe and useful method for entering the common bile duct when access by the usual method is impossible.