When stones migrate from the gallbladder and are retained within the common bile duct a condition called choledocholithiasis. Choledocholithiasis is the medical term for stones within the common bile duct.
Since stones in the common bile duct may migrate and block the pancreatic duct, gallstone pancreatitis may occur. Other complications associated with common bile duct stones include cholangitis, gallstone pancreatitis, fistulous tract formation, and liver damage.
A procedure called endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatoscopy (ERCP) allows the removal of some bile duct stones through the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, duodenum, and biliary system without the need for surgical incisions.
If the stones are less than 1.5 cm in maximal diameter, then these stones were usually passed if a papillotomy is performed during ERCP. The papillotomy and a small cut performed to open the lower portion of the common bile duct. Approximately 2 percent of patients have residual stones after a year CPU with or without papillotomy has been performed.