Fine-needle cholangiography (FNC) in the jaundiced patient is well established, but its role in the diagnostic work-up of nonjaundiced patients has not been emphasized. We present 44 consecutive nonjaundiced patients with a serum bilirubin level of 2.4 mg% or less who underwent FNC. The indications were recurrent RUQ pain (77%), painless cholestasis (16%), and relapsing pancreatitis (7%). In all but two patients, one or more inconclusive techniques [oral cholecystography, ultrasonography, intravenous cholangiography, or endoscopic retrograde cholangiography (ERC)] had been employed prior to FNC. Biliary tract opacification was successful in 35 of 44 (80%). In nine of 35 (26%) choledocholithiasis and/or cholelithiasis was present. In four (11%) a significant extrahepatic biliary stricture was noted. More than five needle insertions were often required for successful entry. No complications occurred. Indications for FNC should be extended to include non-jaundiced patients with RUQ pain or painless cholestasis in whom oral cholecystography, ultrasonography, and intravenous cholangiography have been of no diagnostic help. The relative ease and low cost of FNC make it preferable to ERC in these patients.
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